PRINCESS ANNE, Md. - Everything was going right for North Carolina A&T until the misses came. Then the pressure came. And before the Aggies knew it, something occurred that should not have - a loss.
Maryland Eastern Shore used misses, Aggie miscues to rebound from a double-digit second-half deficit to defeat the Aggies 83-82 at the Hytche Center on Monday night. Thomas Coleman led the Aggies with 20 points and seven rebounds. Adrian Powell and Marc Hill had 16 points apiece.
"We can't get our youth to understand that the game is won in the paint," said N.C. A&T head coach Jerry Eaves. "We've become used to Thomas getting every rebound, and we're content with that. We're going to have to stop that. We're going to have to find a way to get others to board the ball."
The type of boards Eaves was referring to, occur on the offensive end. Two key Hawk rebounds were the determining factors. Freddy Obame Obame grabbed one those rebounds and put it back for an 81-80 UMES lead. Powell put the Aggies ahead with two free throws.
On UMES' next possession, guard Dishawn Bradshaw took advantage of a fundamental mistake by the Aggies. The person guarding Bradshaw's 3-point shot attempt began running down the floor instead of blocking out Bradshaw. Bradshaw picked up his own offensive rebound. It led to Hillary Haley being fouled. Haley hit two foul shots to give the Hawks a one-point lead.
When Coleman was called for an offensive foul as he dribbled into the paint trying to score the game-winning basket, the Aggies (10-14, 5-5) only had one more shot at victory. Austin Witter fouled Josh Bright with 1.7 seconds remaining. Bright missed the front end of the 1-and-1, leading to R.J. Buck's desperation heave from 70 feet that banged off the backboard.
"Until we get others to rebound, games that we are position to win, we won't win," said Eaves.
The Aggies were out-rebounded by the Hawks 43-35. The Aggies are just 5-11 in games they are out-rebounded. Rebounds weren't an issue over the first 30 minutes of the game. N.C. A&T consistently knocked down shots and held a 72-59 lead when Hill hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
When the shots stopped falling is when the Aggies ran into problems. The Hawks rebounded the ball on the offensive end, and guard Dishawn Bradshaw came off the bench to provide momentum. He scored nine points, had two steals and an assists during an 18-6 run that gave the Hawks a 79-78 lead with two minutes to play.
"When we started turning the ball over, we let them back in it," said Eaves who saw his team turn the ball over six times in the final 10 minutes. "We started shooting air balls and putting the ball in people's hands that shouldn't have it. May point guards we'll have to understand when to keep the ball and grind the clock."
Haley led the Hawks with 24 points as the Hawks improved to 6-17 overall and 3-7 in the MEAC. The Aggies return to action 4 p.m., Saturday at Corbett Sports Center against Howard.