DURHAM — It wasnt pretty, but when N.C. Central had multiple players in foul trouble and needed a big shot to fall, the Eagles looked to Jeremy Ingram as they have all season.
The junior guard from East Mecklenburg High got a block and hit two free throws late en route to a career-high 32 points Monday night against Bethune-Cookman to give the Eagles their 11th straight victory, 81-75.
I was just being more aggressive because other guys got in foul trouble, Ingram said. The result of that was my teammates getting me open and giving me the chance to score the ball.
The 11-game winning streak is the first since at least the 1995-96 campaign and gives N.C. Central a chance to win a conference title for the first time since 1950 and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference regular-season title in only its second year.
With the win, N.C. Central also kept pace with Norfolk State, which is undefeated in conference play.
The teams combined for four technical fouls three coming from Bethune-Cookman and a few choice words between the benches during the first half, but Ingram was a consistent force in leading the Eagles to a 41-36 lead at the half. He topped N.C. Central with 20 first-half points, but the show wasnt over.
Our team isnt going to roll over, coach LeVelle Moton said of the first half. Were not a team full of thugs. We come out here to compete. Were men first.
After allowing the Wildcats to take their first lead of the game at 42-41, junior Stanton Kidd got a huge alley-oop dunk that re-ignited the crowd and gave the lead back to the Eagles for good.
Ingram added 12 points in the second half to complete his performance.
Junior guard Emanuel Chapman had five assists, moving him into second all-time in school history with 367 assists.
Senior forward Ray Willis contributed 19 points, including six straight free throws and a monster dunk late.
The Eagles will look for their 12th straight win Saturday at Savannah State, at 7-2, the team just behind them in the MEAC.
That game is huge, Moton said.
Savannah State was projected to win the tournament and the regular season, and we were projected to finish seventh. Now weve become the hunted rather than the hunter. Now weve got to be prepared for the challenge.