By Tyler Ball
Contributor to ncataggies.com
GREENSBORO - For a while, it look as if the North Carolina A&T men's basketball team had finally taken control of Saturday night's hard-fought game against Morgan State. The Aggies had a five-point lead with 4:21 remaining in the contest.
Unfortunately, the home team managed to score just one point the rest of the way, as bad shot selection and two critical turnovers allowed for the Bears to rally and pull out a 55-52 victory in Corbett Sports Center.
"We had the game in control," said a disappointed Aggies head coach Cy Alexander. "But we played without discipline in the last five minutes, and it cost us. We made very bad decisions and didn't finish in the clutch."
Adrian Powell's layup gave the Aggies a 51-46 lead at the 4:21 mark, which proved to be the largest lead for the hosts. Dewayne Jackson answered with a layup, while Anthony Hubbard connected on a 3-pointer to cut the Aggie lead to 52-51 with 2:10 left.
A&T had three chances to extend the lead, but Lamont Middleton's jumper fell short, Powell missed a layup off a steal, and Jeremy Underwood mishandled the ball on the offensive rebound. In the scramble for the loose ball, Justin Black picked it up and found a wide open Hubbard alone on the other end for a layup and a 53-52 Bears advantage.
Middleton could not get off a shot on the Aggies ensuing possession, which led to a turnover and a Morgan State free throw. Powell tried to give A&T the lead with a 3-pointer, but had it partially blocked by Jackson. Hubbard knocked down another free throw with five seconds remaining. Underwood's last-second attempt went long as the Aggies dropped to 9-11 overall and 2-3 in the MEAC.
"We have to execute better in those situations," Alexander said about Powell's attempt with the Aggies down two. "We went over every possible scenario (in the timeout) and wanted a quick two. I understand if the shots come in the flow of the offense, but if we aren't shooting well, we may need to hold off (taking a 3-pointer) and get a better shot."
The Aggies held the Bears to 39.3 percent shooting, but struggle to score as well, hitting just 36.5 percent, including 4-for-21 from 3-point range.
"We had been playing well recently, and had a really good week of practice," Alexander said. "But we didn't execute or hit free throws. I take responsibility for that. Our guys have to play better, and not let our offense dictate how we play on the defensive end."
Jackson finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Ian Childs finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds to lead Morgan State (6-10, 3-2 MEAC). Powell led the Aggies with 12 points, while Jean Louisme added 10.
"As poorly as we played, we had a five-point lead and control of the game," said Alexander. "I want our men, especially our seniors, to continue to be smart and play with discipline as we continue to grow and move forward in the MEAC. We'll get back in the gym tomorrow and get prepared for Coppin State."
The Aggies get a chance to regroup Monday night when they face Coppin State at Corbett Sports Center at 8.