Bibbs Reaches Coaching Milestone

By BASN Wire Services
Updated: November 24, 2007

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Patricia Cage-Bibbs started coaching college basketball because she wanted to help the fledgling women’s basketball program at her alma mater at Grambling State University.

23 years later, a convincing 88-62 win over UNC Asheville has made Bibbs the 38th active women’s basketball coach to record 400 career wins and just the second women’s basketball coach to do it at an HBCU. On top of all that, she has all but rebuilt her third women’s basketball program.

“I’m blessed to be in the business long enough to achieve this,” said Bibbs. “I’m glad to achieve this year at North Carolina A&T, and I’m thrilled this group of kids gave it to me.”

The win was a part of the first day of the UNC Greensboro Thanksgiving Tournament at Fleming Gymnasium, which means Bibbs picked up the historic win in front of a lot of Aggie faithful. It was contingent that began to chant “400 wins, 400 wins” as the clock ticked under a minute on Friday.

“It feels good because every time she thinks about her 400th win my name will be thrown in there,” said first-team All-MEAC guard Amber Bland. “It was great because it wasn’t a team effort, it was a family effort. We all wanted to win this for her, so it was like a family coming together to do something special for a family member.”

The Aggies played like it was a special occasion. In fact, they played the same way Bibbs wants them to play on every occasion. Thus far this season the Aggies (3-1) have been living on second-half surges where they hold a team down defensively, while catching a spark offensively.

On Friday, they did those things throughout the game and the results were encouraging. Ta’Wuana Cook led the Aggies with 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting. Jalessa Sams, Lamona Smalley, Brittanie Taylor-James and Bland had 13 points apiece. Former UNCA point guard Tyronnica Alford also had an enjoyable day against her former teammates. She finished with seven points and a career-high eight points.

I seriously didn’t come into this game thinking about 400 wins,” said Bibbs. “What I thought about was our kids coming together and putting two halves together. We could not fall behind to this team early because they play so well on the offensive end.”

N.C. A&T’s dominating performance didn’t come against a weak opponent. The Bulldogs earned a NCAA Tournament bid last season. They came into the game averaging 71.3 points per game and guard Ashton Barton came in averaging 17.3 points per game, while her backcourt mate Ana Baker was averaging 7.3 assists and 5.0 steals per game.

But a staple of Bibbs for so many years – pressure defense – forced the Bulldogs into 34 turnovers and it made Barton pretty much obsolete for the entire game.

The Aggies took over the game at the 8:11 minute mark with the Aggies leading 22-20. The Aggies bench sparked a 15-0 run with Bland and Sams in foul trouble. Taylor-James scored on two layups and grabbed two rebounds, while Nancy Rembert hit a 3-pointer and a jump shot during the run to help the Aggies take a 37-20 lead with 4:19 remaining in the game.

The Bulldogs never got any closer than 14 the rest of the night, which meant the sparking cider was being chilled early. After the game, the Aggie players attempted to shake up sparkling cider and spray it on Bibbs in the locker room. But Bibbs, who is forever the fashion statement, would not hear of it.

“I guess I could have it had dry cleaned, but I didn’t want to risk it,” she said.

The Aggies are back in action Sunday, when they face Boston in the championship game at Fleming Gymnasium at 3 p.m.