DAYTON, Ohio - The North Carolina A&T men's basketball team fell 56-44 against Wright State on Friday night at the Nutter Center in the Raiders' home opener.
The Aggies (1-2) won the rebound battle against the Raiders (3-0) and held Wright State to well under their scoring average, but A&T struggled to put down their own shots in the contest. The Aggies shot just 33 percent compared to Wright State's 49.
"I thought our kids gave a very valiant effort," said A&T head coach Cy Alexander. "Again, I'm cautiously optimistic that once we start putting the ball in the basket, and if we can keep playing defense at the level that we're playing, we're going to be ok. This is a very good basketball team that we kept to 56 points. But again, we are not scoring. We are not shooting a very solid percentage."
The Aggies were led offensively by seniors Adrian Powell and Austin Witter, who each had 10 points. Witter also recorded a team-best nine rebounds, all on the defensive end.
A jumper by junior transfer Lamont Middleton made it a five-point game at 31-26 with 15:42 left in the game, but that was as close as the Aggies were able to get. A jumper from senior Jean Louisme cut the deficit to seven at 37-30 with 12:39 remaining. A 3-pointer from the corner of the floor by Miles Dixon, who finished with 14 for the Raiders, put Wright State ahead 40-30. Back to back jumpers from Powell and Witter brought A&T within nine as the Aggies worked to come back. A pair of free throws from Lamont Middleton made it a 52-44 game with 2:11 remaining. But the Aggies missed five free throws in the second half, and the Raiders were able to capitalize on A&T turnovers in the second half.
"I was disappointed that down the stretch we cut it down to five or six at one point at time, and we had some free throw opportunities that we did not cash in on. I was very disappointed with that," Alexander said.
The Aggies worked to keep up with the Raiders in the first half. With 9:29 left in the first half, the Raiders took a 21-10 lead on consecutive 3-pointers from Dixon and JT Yoho. A layup by DaMetrius Upchurch pulled the Aggies to within nine, but Yoho answered right back with another 3-pointer to make it a 24-12 contest. A 3-pointer from Witter with just over two minutes pulled the Aggies within nine at 29-20. The two teams traded scoreless possessions over the last couple of minutes to close out the half.
"I'm seeing some good things and I'm seeing some bad things. But if we can continue to do the good things and make them even better, then we've just got to keep working and stay positive on the bad things," Alexander said. "Sooner or later, our shooters are going to put the ball in the basket. We want to just stay positive in that regard."