GREENSBORO — One good turn deserves another, right?
Well, the way the N.C. A&T Aggies saw it Saturday, one good turn in the final nine seconds would have been sufficient by itself.
But Campbell point guard Anthony Atkinson wanted a direct path to the basket, and when he seized it, he drove the Camels to the game-winning layup with 3.1 seconds left in a 68-67 victory at the Corbett Sports Center.
Campbell (2-3) snapped a 35-game road losing streak in the process.
“We’ve got to turn him once. Once,” Aggies coach Jerry Eaves said of the speedy sophomore from Wilson. “If we do that one time and he hits the shot, I’d have a better feeling about it.”
Steven Koger had just put the Aggies ahead 67-66 on a jumper from the left baseline with 9.6 ticks left, and the Camels, out of timeouts, didn’t panic.
They needed the ball in the hands of their leader.
Atkinson had committed seven of the Camels’ 20 turnovers, but in order to get the best possible shot, he’d have to catch the inbounds pass, dribble unabated inside the 3-point line and then make a decision.
And he felt the urgency because of the Aggies and not just because of the clock.
A&T (1-7) stayed in the game with its harassment, which was nearly good enough to offset 3-for-26 shooting from the 3-point line.
“So disciplined,” Atkinson said. “They are not going to give up. If you get it past half-court, they’re going to trap you again. You get it to the corner and they’re going to trap you again. If you break it, you still have to think they can get you.”
In the immediate aftermath of Koger’s basket, the Aggies couldn’t deny the pass to Atkinson.
Furthermore, he caught the ball with a running start.
“He’s pretty fast, and once he gets moving, he’s pretty hard to stop,” Koger said.
So the task next became to force Atkinson to stop for a split-second, change directions and get the ball out his dominant (right) hand.
That’s the turn of which Eaves spoke.
“We tried to turn him three or four times every possession,” A&T guard Sean Booker said. “But (in the end), we let him keep it in his right hand and on a straight line to the basket.”
Atkinson kept on going and made a tough layup in traffic.
Ultimately, he beat A&T at the game it had played so well.
The Aggies forced an average of 21 turnovers a game coming in, and they nearly equaled that on Saturday.
“I have to compliment them on the nature of their pressure game,” Campbell coach Robbie Laing said. “I had thought we were un-pressable with Anthony. I underestimated how difficult that pressure was going to be to handle.”
Contact Rob Daniels at 373-7028 or email@example.com