MEAC / Spartan Women / Sports

Lady Spartans Rally from 19 Down to Beat North Carolina A&T in OT, 76-75

Rae Corbo

Koryn Lawrence

NORFOLK, Va. – Sophomore guard Koryn Lawrence scored the go-ahead basket on a layup with 14 seconds left in overtime, and North Carolina A&T’s Debbie Smith missed a potential winning field goal with seven seconds remaining as the Spartan women’s basketball team rallied for a dramatic 76-75 victory over the Aggies on Monday night at Echols Hall.

The Spartans (6-11, 5-1 MEAC) trailed by as many as 19 early in the second half, but rallied to force overtime. NSU trailed by as many as four in the extra session before rallying again behind the play of Corbo, who had a game-high 30 points, and Lawrence, who matched her career high with 23. Their heroics gave their Spartans their fourth straight win, the program’s first four-game winning streak since 2004-05, and helped NSU match the 1999-2000 team for the best six-game MEAC start in school history.

Aprill McRae scored inside to give the Aggies (9-10, 2-4) a 75-71 lead with 2:30 left in overtime. But that proved to be N.C. A&T’s last field goal. Corbo split six free throws to bring NSU closer. She hit 1-of-2 from the line with 29 seconds left to cut the Aggies’ lead to 75-74. A&T guard Christina Carter missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw opportunity with 23 seconds left, and Kayla Roberts rebounded for NSU. Corbo then drove up the right side of the court and found Lawrence streaking behind the defense for a backdoor layup with 14 seconds left.

A&T had a good shot at the end, but Smith missed a jumper in the lane with seven seconds remaining. Roberts rebounded for the Spartans and NSU dribbled out the clock.

The Spartans scored the first six points of the game, but a 16-0 Aggie run midway through the first half gave N.C. A&T control. The Spartans went 7 minutes, 15 seconds without a field goal in one stretch of the half against the Aggies. N.C. A&T held NSU to 29.6 percent shooting in the opening half, which ended with A&T ahead, 31-19.

A layup by McRae gave the Aggies their largest lead of the night, 43-24, with 17:13 left in the second half. The Aggies still led by 15 points at the midway point of the second half and by 10 with 2:56 left before NSU made one last regulation surge. With NSU trailing 65-55 and less than three minutes remaining, Corbo went 2-of-2 from the line on consecutive possessions to trim the deficit to six. After two Aggie misses, a Lawrence jumper whittled the deficit to 65-61 with 1:58 left.

The game still appeared in hand for the Aggies when Smith hit her sixth and final 3-pointer of the night with 1:32 left. But Corbo scored on a layup, and after an Aggie miss, hit a trey from the right wing to bring NSU within 68-66 with 46 seconds left. The Aggies missed again at the other end and Corbo hit two free throws with seven seconds left to complete her own personal 7-0 run to tie the game.

McRae missed a layup and Adriana Nazario missed a 3-pointer at the second-half buzzer to send the game into overtime tied at 68.

Nazario scored the first basket of the OT to give the Aggies a lead, and after one free throw by Nia Roberts, Nazario answered with a 3-pointer for a 73-69 N.C. A&T lead. McRae’s basket at the 2:30 mark put A&T back ahead by four, 75-71. But the Spartan defense buckled down from there, forcing three turnovers and two missed field goals while holding the Aggies scoreless.

Corbo then continued her free-throw shooting spree, going 3-of-6 from the line over a span of three Spartan possessions. She then fed Lawrence for what proved to be the winner.

A&T had won 12 of the previous 13 meetings between the teams. The Aggies, who were tabbed the MEAC preseason favorite, fell to 9-10, 2-4 in conference play.

Corbo shook off a slow start to finish with 30 points, the second-most of her career. She has scored 29, 29 and 30 points in the last three games. She ended the night 8-of-21 from the floor, 3-of-9 from behind the arc, and 11-of-14 from the foul line. Lawrence went 10-of-12 from the floor and 3-of-3 from the foul line to match her career high in scoring she set on Jan. 10 at FAMU.

Many Spartans had a hand in the comeback. Jazamine Gray hit all three of her field goals to finish with six points. She also grabbed six rebounds and dished out a career-high 10 assists. Eight of those came in the second half, when NSU shot 62.5 percent, its highest percentage from the floor in a half this season. The Spartans ended the night shooting 45.5 percent from the floor and outrebounded the much taller Aggies 39-38.

Kayla Roberts finished with her fourth double-double of the year, with 10 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Nia Roberts added eight rebounds and three blocks.

Smith had 22 points and went 6-of-6 from 3-point range to lead the Aggies. Nazario added 19 points and McRae had 13.

The Spartans are on the road for their next two games, starting with a 4 p.m. game Saturday at South Carolina State.