GREENSBORO — The Aggies (14-14) were in an unexpectedly highly competitive game on Saturday when the Howard Bison (2-25) nearly defeated N.C. A&T, which currently holds the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference (MEAC) No. 1 spot.
Off the heels of a 17-point home victory over arch-rival N.C. Central, the Aggies looked to be cruising early when they jumped to a 19-7 lead in the opening minutes of the game.
Then the Aggies had a brutal stretch in the home game, where they went cold to end the half, making only two baskets out of nine attempts in the last six and a half minutes of the first half.
Howard went into half time leading 35-32, it was then made known at half, that the Bison’s guard Charles Williams had become the all-time leader in points in MEAC history. Williams is averaging 18.4 points per game this season.
The Aggies struggled throughout the game as they were getting outrebounded at the half 23-13 by the Bison, who ranks 345th (out of 350) in the nation in rebounding margin, per Greensboro News & Record sports reporter Jeff Mills.
They also missed 20 free throws as they went 17-37 from the charity stripe and committed 21 turnovers.
The Aggies were honoring two seniors and a graduate player on Saturday: guard Andre Jackson, forward Ronald “Action” Jackson and forward Devin Haygood. They also honored three senior managers for the team: Josh Bryant, Jawaun Brown and Mychalante Eubanks.
In a postgame interview, Eubanks said despite this being his first year with the ball club, he never felt like less than family.
“I will remember this team for the brotherhood,” Eubanks said.
“This was my first year but it does not seem like it, it does not feel like it, everyone took me as one of them.”
Fortunately, the Aggies were able to pull out the victory in the final two minutes of the game when freshman guard Fred Cleveland Jr. (14 points) knocked down a three-pointer to put the team up by two in the final 90 seconds.
Senior guard Andre Jackson noted some early excitement contributed to the sloppy play.
“It was ugly, but we got the win,” Jackson said. “ We came out with a lot of energy and we were into the pregame festivities but then we settled down.”
The Aggies currently have a half-game lead over Norfolk State and N.C. Central with three games remaining.
The Aggies’ last home game is versus Maryland Eastern Shore (5-22) on Monday, Feb. 24.