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WATCH NOW: NCCU MBB March Madness (Gameday: The Experience)

Coach Levelle Moton (courtesy: The News & Observer)

North Carolina Central University took on UC Davis in the First Four of the 2017 NCAA Tournament on Wednesday, March 15 at UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio. The Eagles went right down to the wire with UC Davis, but the Aggies were able to hold off the Eagles, 67-63. Check out the sights and sounds with this footage courtesy of CBS/Turner and NCCU senior Phillip Robinson-Hayes, and edited by him as well.

NCCU finishes the season with a 25-9 mark, and the second-most wins in a season with head coach LeVelle Moton.  25 wins also stands as the third-most wins in a season in program history.

The first half of the contest was very even, with both teams having an almost equal time in the lead.  NCCU (25-9) led for 7:19 minutes, UC Davis (23-12) had the advantage of 8:56 minutes, and the score was level for 3:45 of the first 20.

The Eagles rode a strong effort from Dajuan Graf (Charlotte, N.C.) into the half as he nailed a big triple to put NCCU ahead 34-31 at the intermission.  Kyle Benton (Long Beach, Calif.) was a big inside presence against the Aggies with nine points and four rebounds.

UC Davis took over in the second half as they started the period on a 21-9 run over the first nine minutes, boosted by the team shooting 70 percent from the floor during that stretch.  The Eagles fired back with a run of their own, and that set up a game that sizzled right down to the wire.

Rashaun Madison (Norfolk, Va.) and Graf hit a pair of big treys down the stretch, and the Eagles had a few looks to either tie or take the lead within the final two minutes.  However, the Aggies were able to outlast the Eagles and make a few free throws down the stretch to hold on for the win.

Benton finished with 13 points and a joint game-high 12 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the year, and seventh of his career.  Graf tallied a team-high 15 points, and Cole put in 13 points and five boards with three assists.  Pablo Rivas (Phoenix, Ariz.) was the fourth Eagle in double-digits with 12 points, five rebounds and four assists.

Of note, Cole passed John Bishop (1980-81, 625) for the second-most points in a single-season with 636.

UC Davis was led by Chima Moneke (Canberra, Australia) who had a double-double with a game-high 18 points and 12 rebounds, followed by Brynton Lemar (San Diego, Calif.) with 15 points and five rebounds.  Lawrence White (Burbank, Calif.) picked up 14 points with four boards and four assists.

 (www.nccueaglepride.com)

Photo: Courtesy The News & Observer

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