Bulldogs send Aggies packing again, 63-61
The series between the N.C. A&T Aggies and the S.C. State Bulldogs has intensified over the past several years as these teams are seeming to get pretty used to each other. However, it seems as if S.C. State has A&T’s number as they’ve won eight of the nine meetings by an average of 3.2 points. This year was no different as the Bulldogs used a miracle shot from Andre’ Riviera to spurn the Aggies 63-61 in the quarterfinals of the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference Tournament. “It’s just been very frustrating against S.C. State,” said Aggie head coach Curtis Hunter, speaking of A&T’s recent failures to the Bulldogs. “I thought that we’d be able to change some things against them this year with the way things have been going in this series. They had us way down, but we fought back because that’s how we play. Had we played that way the entire game, who knows what the outcome could have been.”A&T didn’t help themselves at all offensively, hitting just 38.8 percent from the field and committing a dubious 21 turnovers, but they would not give in. Trailing 56-44 with just over nine minutes remaining, A&T went on a furious 17-5 run to tie the game at 61 with 57 seconds remaining. S.C. State’s Dexter Hall would miss a jumper on the ensuing Bulldog possession, setting up A&T with what was shaping up to be the final shot of the game. As Aggie guard Marque Carrington drove the lane, he was stripped of the ball by Hall, who fired a pass to Riviera. Riviera intially had plans to drive to the basket but was cut off by A&T’s Beckwith and forced into a fadeaway shot. With time expiring, Riviera’s shot, which swished through the net, signaled the end for the Aggies. “I didn’t think he’d hit that shot,” said Beckwith. “The shot was a tough one but he made it and they won. I felt that we weren’t out of it until the very end.” Riviera torched the Aggies, scoring 29 points on 11-of-15 from the field, including the game-winner. S.C. State did a particularly good job defensively , shutting down A&T’s star Bruce Jenkins, holding him to nine points (1-of-9 shooting) and seven rebounds, well below his season averages of 19.1 points per game and 12 rebounds per game. Senior Anthony Debro led the Aggies, scoring 15 points while Jafar Taalib added 14 points and 14 rebounds. A&T ended their 2001-2002 season at 11-17 overall after starting the season 1-13.
NCAT- Anthony Debro- 15 points
S.C. State- Andre’ Riviera- 29 points