IOWA CITY, Iowa- The North Carolina A&T men's basketball team lost 95-79 to the Iowa Hawkeyes on Monday night at Mediacom Court at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, but matched the Hawkeyes point for point in the second half, keeping up the pressure on the Big 10 school. Senior guard Marc Hill led the team with 20 points, his 19th career game with double-digit scoring.
The meeting, which was part of the Dale Howard Classic, saw the Aggies (0-2) and the Hawkeyes (2-0), fight a close one, with the Aggies keeping Iowa in check by limiting their offensive rebounding and second-chance scoring abilities, which had been the key to Iowa's success in the first half.
"From Friday's game to today, we really progressed," said Aggies head coach Jerry Eaves. "We still had three people out, three of my major players, but our team played hard and with a lot more confidence. I liked the way [Iowa] played, they ran up and down the court. It allowed my kids to relax and play. The bottom line is they still had 90-something points that they scored. My hat's off to them."
At the half, the Hawkeyes had a 16-point lead, but the Aggies were making them work for every point, pressuring them with an up-tempo pace. N.C. A&T forced Iowa into making 22 turnovers in the game, which allowed the Aggies to match the Hawkeyes point for point in the second half.
"At halftime, we talked about trying to win the second half," Eaves said. And the Aggies nearly did win the second half. Eaves noted that several players, such as senior guard Nic Simpson and junior guard Jean Louisme, started to hit shots. The Aggies improved their shooting in the second half, and got to the free throw line 16 times.
"Spreading out the game and pressing, we allowed our team the opportunity to play the way I thought we could," Eaves said.
The Aggies limited Iowa to just six offensive rebounds in the second half. Iowa's ability to get second chance shots helped them to collect 23 second-chance points, and to maintain their double-digit throughout the second half. But the Aggies held the Hawkeyes to just four second-chance points in half No. 2.
Simpson scored 11 second-half points and finished with 12 points, while Adrian Powell led N.C. A&T with seven boards.
Guard Matt Gatens put up 27 points for the Hawkeyes, while Eric May had 20 and Melsahn Basabe had 15 and 10 rebounds to lead Iowa to victory. Iowa shot 49.3 percent in the game, while A&T shot 37.7 percent.
Both clubs had 28 points in the paint, but the real difference was Iowa's early chances to score off offensive rebounds in the first half.
"Once we get our entire team on the floor, we'll be a team," Eaves said. "We'll be unscoutable. We'll have multiple scorers, and multiple attacks. You won't know who will give you 20 points."
The Aggies will stay on the road for their third game, visiting Campbell University on Thursday for a 7 p.m., game. N.C. A&T will host their home opener at Corbett Sports Center on Saturday against Chicago State at 7 p.m., following the Aggie football team's regular-season finale against archrival N.C. Central at 1:30 p.m. at Aggie Stadium.