BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Bethune-Cookman picked up two big MEAC wins over North Carolina A&T and North Carolina Central this past week.
A stifling second-half defense helped the Lady Wildcats beat North Carolina A&T on Jan. 12 for the first time in seven years.
“It was a great win for the program. We haven’t beaten them the entire time that I have been here. We had a great week of practice and preparation,” said Vanessa Blair, head coach.
After falling behind by seven points in the second half, B-CU picked up the defensive pressure.
“We needed to make a stance defensively in the second half. We got some steals which helped us get some offense, especially out in transition,” stated Blair.
B-CU led 62-58 after a steal and lay up from Terrenisha Hollis with 2:51 to play.
The Wildcats made key baskets, free throws and stops down the stretch.
‘A huge win’
North Carolina A&T led 24-13 after DeAndra Davis two free throws with 8:13 to go in the first half.
Chastity Rene Taylor had a game-high 19 points and Shakeyia Colyer had a career-high 17 for B-CU.
“It felt good. We feed off each other with a lot of energy as a team. I am starting to get in rhythm playing after sitting out a year. It was huge to beat A&T who is one of the best teams in the conference,” commented Colyer.
“I’m always comfortable taking a shot. I always want the shot to go in. This is a huge win. We didn’t know that we haven’t beaten them so long until we were told after the game,” answered Taylor.
Tracy King had 18 points with seven rebounds while JaQualya Berry added 16 points with 18 boards for A&T.
The Wildcats also got 11 points from Jasmine Evans and seven points with a game-high 11 boards from Hollis.
Ladies top Central too
The Ladies followed up by crushing North Carolina Central 55-32 on Monday.
Hollis posted her first career double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds to pace B-CU.
The Wildcats (7-8, 2-1) shot 45.7 percent from the field, 50 percent from beyond the arc, won the rebound battle 33-28 and dominated in points in the paint 26-16. They also scored 23points off 21 Eagles turnovers.
“It was great that we didn’t come out flat after Saturday’s big win. We had to guard against complacency,” said Blair.
Taylor added 15 points, Cayla Crawford eight points and Amanda Hairston three blocks for B-CU.
Tenika Neely led the Central Eagles with nine points.
On the men’s side, the Wildcats beat North Carolina A&T but lost the showdown to North Carolina Central.
The Wildcats hit 12-of-26 three pointers to beat A&T on Jan. 12.
Malik Jackson scored a career-high 20 points (6-for-8 three pointers) and Kevin Dukes added 19 points (5-for-11 threes) with nine assists for B-CU.
“The game plan was for me to shoot tonight and I just did. I just try to come ready to play every game,” responded Jackson.
“We came together as a team and buckled down defensively. We wanted to make sure that we outworked them and we did,” added Dukes.
Javoris Bryant also had nine points with a game-high 11 boards for the Cats.
The Aggies led 49-43 after a dunk by Bruce Beckford with 13:34.
The Wildcats responded with a 23-7 run capped by a Bryant jumper to lead 66-56 lead with 3:25 to play.
“We switched defenses then they missed shots. We then got out in transition and made some shots. We also made some free throws,” said head coach Gravelle Craig.
Lamont Middleton had a game-high 25 points for the Aggies while teammates Jean Louisme added 12 points and Beckford 13.
Wildcats fall to Eagles
North Carolina Central took advantage of its size advantage and B-CU’s offensive mistakes to win 75-66 on Monday.
The Eagles outscored the Wildcats 42-26 in the paint. Central shot 50 percent from the field and converted 25-of-31 free throw attempts.
“They shot layups and we struggled to score. That caught up with us. They came out in the second half and said, ‘We’re going to drive the ball and get it inside,’ and we didn’t offer any resistance,” commented Craig.
Ray Willis led the Eagles with a game-high 26 points while teammates Stanton Kidd added 23 points and Jeremy Ingram and Alfonzo Houston both scored 10.
Adrien Coleman led the Wildcats with 18 points while teammates Javoris Bryant added 10 and Alex Coleman nine points with six rebounds and four blocks.
Both programs will hit the road to face South Carolina State on Jan. 19 and Savannah State on Jan. 21, respectively.