By Brian Holloway North Carolina A&T Athletic Communications,
Duncan Powell records his first career double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
HEMPSTEAD, NY – The North Carolina A&T Aggies men’s basketball team spent their previous two games trying to overcome large second-half deficits, coming close to doing so, before losing both games. However, most of that scenario changed Saturday afternoon at the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex against the Hofstra Pride.
The Aggies did fall behind by double figures, but this time they prevailed thanks to a buzzer-beater tip-in by freshman Tyrese Elliott that gave the Aggies an 81-79 win.
A&T’s win snaps a four-game losing streak as the Aggies improved to 6-9 overall and 1-1 in league play. Hofstra saw its two-game winning streak drop to 8-7 overall and 1-1 in CAA play. But men’s basketball’s first-ever Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) win in program history came with bated breath.
The nation’s fifth-leading scorer in Hofstra guard Aaron Estrada started to make his moves with some fancy dribbling against A&T junior Marcus Watson with the game tied at 79 with 20 seconds remaining. He went between his legs, made a spin move, and tried to score.
Watson didn’t fall for any of it, forcing him to take a tough fadeaway from the elbow. The shot went long, and Aggies guard Kam Woods took down the rebound. The point guard raced up the floor to win the game. He whirled his way into the lane but missed his runner off the back rim.
An alert Elliott immediately rose above the rim and tipped the ball in as the buzzer sounded. A&T players roared from the sideline in excitement before being called back from all the hug and pile-on celebrations as the officials went to the replay monitor to see if the ball left Elliott’s fingertips in time.
After a 2-3 minute wait, the officials confirmed Elliott’s tip-in beat the buzzer, sending the Aggies into another piling on-top-of-each-other celebration.
“It feels great. It’s historic. I’m ecstatic,” said A&T interim head coach Phillip Shumpert. “To be in a high-level league like this and get our first win on the road against one of the best teams in the conference in Hofstra makes me so proud of our guys and our coaching staff. They do an excellent job of scouting our opponents and coming up with excellent game plans.”
A part of Saturday’s game plan was obviously to slow down Estrada, who came into the game averaging 22.5 points per game. A&T did an adequate job as Estrada finished with 18 points on 8-for-17 shooting but 0-for-5 from three.
Estrada did find his way to the rim with 9:57 remaining to score on a layup, giving the Pride a 64-51 lead. It marked the Pride’s largest lead of the game. It was also the third straight game the Aggies found themselves down by double figures in the second half.
But like the previous two games, the fighting Aggies came storming back to make the game competitive. The Aggies went on a 13-3 run over the next four minutes, which included two 3-pointers from senior Demetric Horton to cut Hofstra’s lead to 67-64.
Hofstra pushed its lead to six, 73-67, on a Warren Williams layup with 4:15 to play, and then Elliott happened. He netted a three from the corner to get the Aggies back to within three. Horton then tied the game at 73 with a triple from the top of the key with 2:37 remaining. Horton finished the game with 21 points and six rebounds on 8-for-13 shooting and 5-for-7 from 3-point range.
But Hofstra’s Ddarlinstone Dubar hit a massive 3-pointer a minute later to give the Pride a 79-75 lead with 91 seconds remaining. But the Aggies did not let this comeback slip away. Woods, who finished with 12 points, hit a tough jumper over Jaquan Carlos inches inside the free throw line area to cut the lead to two.
Watson then forced Estrada into a turnover, leading to Elliott scoring the game’s final four points. Elliott came out of an A&T timeout, cruised down the lane and scored to tie the game at 79. It set up Estrada’s miss and the game-winning tip-in.
A&T charged back mainly behind the play from its reserves. Freshman Duncan Powell came off the bench to post career highs in points (18) and rebounds (12) as he secured his first career double-double. Elliott came off the bench and added a career-high 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting.
“This game right here was our time,” said Shumpert. “I love seeing Duncan Powell coming into his own. He sat out last year, but now you’re getting to see the real Duncan Powell. Then we’ve got Tyrese Elliott, who was another heralded recruit, and now as the season moves on, you’re getting to see what he’s all about as a player.
We could have easily laid down because we were on a four-game losing streak. But these guys are fighting. They’re fighting, fighting and fighting.”