GREENSBORO, NC – The Winston-Salem State Rams (0-3) gave their local rivals quite a scare, but the team fell just short in a 60-56 loss to the North Carolina A&T Lady Aggies (1-2), Friday evening. The Rams utilized a big second half effort to nearly pull off the win over their NCAA Division I foes in front of an energetic crowd of over 2,500 at the Corbett Sports Center.
Defense was the order of the day as both the Rams and the Lady Aggies made scoring tough for their opponents. As a team, the Rams were held to shooting just 33.9% (21-of-62) against the Lady Aggies. The Rams had eight shots blocked in the game. However, the team used a high-pressure defensive effort of their own to make the game hard for the Lady Aggies as they forced 24 North Carolina A&T turnovers. WSSU sophomore guard Teara Johnson led the WSSU attack with a game-high 17 points and seven rebounds while senior forward Brionna Pate added 12 points with nine rebounds.
The first quarter was the toughest one of the game for the Rams as the team totaled just eight points. The team didn't score until the 5:33 mark when a Pate jumper left the Rams trailing, 9-2. She was the only Ram to score until a lay-up from freshman guard Amaya Tucker in the final minute. At the end of the quarter, the Rams trailed 15-8.
The second quarter saw a much better effort from the Rams as the team scored 12 points, just one fewer than the Lady Aggies. The Rams were especially impressive early in the quarter as they went on a six-point run that pulled the team to within a point, 15-14 after a pair of Johnson free throws with 7:16 left in the second quarter. From there, things got tough for the Rams as the team fell behind by as many as 10 points, 28-18. But, a Johnson lay-up with just 14 seconds left in the second quarter gave the Rams a big lift heading into the locker room at halftime.
It was in the second half that the Rams showed their fight and the effort began with a big third quarter. The Rams opened the quarter with an eight-point run that was capped by a lay-up from Pate that put the team on top, 30-28 with 7:05 left in the quarter. Defensively, the Rams took things over as they held the Lady Aggies scoreless until the 6:56 mark. North Carolina A&T answered the Rams' attack with a big offensive showing, but the Rams kept the game within reach for the remainder of the quarter. After falling behind by as many as nine points during the quarter, the Rams fought their way back into the game. A lay-up from Tucker with four seconds left in the quarter capped the 8-2 run by the Rams that left the team trailing, 46-44 at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was a thrilling one with a dramatic ending as the Rams kept the pressure on their foes. The Rams were able to keep up the pressure with some clutch free throw shooting as a lay-up from Tucker was the team's sole field goal of the fourth quarter. The Tucker lay-up with 9:30 left was followed by a free throw from freshman forward Dahja Williams at the 9:01 mark. The Rams allowed the Lady Aggies to regain the lead before falling into another 10-point deficit, 59-49 with just under five minutes left to play. From there, the Rams chipped away at their deficit, whittling it down to just five points, 59-54 after a Johnson free throw with 2:33 left. Fellow freshman Hailey Gipson added two more free throws with 1:40 left, but the Rams would not score again as they finished the night with the 60-56 loss.
With the loss, the Rams fall to 0-3 on the season. The Rams will open home court, Sunday afternoon when they host the Johnson & Wales Wildcats at 2:00 p.m. at the C.E. Gaines Center. For more information on Rams women's basketball, contact the WSSU Office of Athletic Media Relations at (336) 750-2143 or log on to www.WSSURams.com.