NORTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. (ncataggies.com) – N.C. A&T was eliminated Saturday from national championship contention in the semifinals of the NCAA Women’s Bowling Championships at Brunswick Zone Carolier Lanes. Stephen F. Austin, the 2015 runner-up at the NCAA championships, swept the Aggies 4-0 (233-180, 199-149, 236-170, 190-168) in a best-of-seven baker play format. As a result of having a total pinfall of 8,552 for the tournament the Aggies finished third nationally.
“That’s not bad for our first time here,” said interim head coach Linda Grace. “Stephen F. Austin and Nebraska have been here a few times, so I’m proud of the way the ladies performed. The fact we made it to Saturday surprised a few people.”
The Ladyjacks got off to a blazing start, posting strikes in the first five frames of Game 1. N.C. A&T failed to pick up spares in two early frames leaving themselves with a huge deficit to overcome. N.C. A&T had a better start to Game 2, but the Ladyjacks’ 3, 4 and 5 bowlers were strong all four games, particularly late. Meanwhile the Aggies top two – All-Americans MacKenzie Robinson (junior) and Emily Strombeck (senior) – were not able to match their scoring.
“We’ve been down 0-2 before but we’re normally knocking down pins and picking up spares on a pretty good pace, so we never get too worried about it,” said Grace. “This time (SFA) got hot early, we were not bowling well early and then we started having a case of the nerves. We started pressing and it became an avalanche from there.”
N.C. A&T sidestepped an avalanche in their first best of seven on Saturday. The Aggies dropped the first two games to Sam Houston State, but the Bearkats had to post a 237 to overcome the Aggies’ 223. The Bearkats posted a 205 to win Game 2 before slowing down considerably in Game 3 with a 147 that was easily surpassed by the Aggies 213. Despite their dismal Game 3, the Bearkats had a chance to take a commanding 3-1 lead by knocking down eight pins in the final frame.
They knocked down six to help the Aggies tie the series at 2-2 with a 197-196 win. The Aggies cruised to victory in the final two games to advance to the semis against SFA.
“We really bowled well that entire match,” said Grace. “I was hoping it would carry over, but it just didn’t. I really wanted to win this title for Strombeck. Her decision to come to A&T got all of this started, so I wanted to see her to walk away with a USBC and NCAA national championship.”
Strombeck, one of the most decorated athletes in N.C. A&T history, will get another chance to win a USBC national title when she and her teammates defend their 2015 USBC title at the Intercollegiate Team Championships, April 20-23 in Wichita, Kan. The Aggies head into the tournament 84-44 on the season.
N.C. A&T will now try to defend their USBC national championship, April 20-23, at the Intercollegiate Team Championships.