GREENSBORO - Jeremy Underwood couldn't wait to get back on the court for tonight's game against Coppin State. After a game in which he had a critical turnover and missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer in Saturday's loss to Morgan State, he promised his teammates he could come through in the clutch situations.
He made the most of his next opportunity, as he nailed a 3-pointer with nine seconds remaining to give the Aggies a 63-62 victory over Coppin State in Corbett Sports Center. It was the Aggies second straight one-point win over CSU after beating the Eagles 93-92 in overtime in Baltimore last season.
The game did not end without drama, as Austin Witter blocked a layup attempt from Coppin State's Patrick Cole. The ball redirected to Taariq Cephas, but his basket was ruled after time expired.
Underwood's 3-pointer capped a hard fought contest that featured seven ties and 17 lead changes. Neither team led by more than four points in the second half. Aggies coach Cy Alexander was pleased with the Aggies execution down the stretch, in lieu of Saturday night's miscues.
"We played smart basketball, especially in the last five minutes," Alexander said. "We were able to get this win because we executed our game plan. The [game-winning play] was designed for an inside shot for Austin Witter, or an outside shot for Adrian Powell. But Jeremy Underwood made a quarterback-like decision. Both players were covered and he took a good shot."
Underwood needed some redemption after making a poor pass that was stolen by Patrick Cole, who fed Cephas in transition for a 3-pointer that gave Coppin a 62-60 lead with 2:02 left.
Underwood would give the Aggies (10-11, 3-3 MEAC) a chance to win on the defensive end, forcing Cephas into a traveling violation, which gave the home team the ball for the final possession.
"I was ready to shoot," said Underwood, who came into the game shooting a career-best 38 percent from the 3-point line. I told my teammates that what happened Saturday would not happen again. I saw that they doubled Austin and covered Adrian, so I shot the ball with confidence."
Powell led the Aggies with 23 points, while Lamont Middleton became the first Aggie this season to record a double-double, as he finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Andre Armstrong led four Eagles in double figures with 27 points on 8-for-12 shooting from 3-point range. Coppin State dropped to 5-17 overall and 2-5 in the MEAC.
"Coppin was very tough for us tonight," said Alexander, "Armstrong is a great shooter, and he hit shots that were defended. But our goal was not to let them get baskets inside. We did that, and we rebounded well (A&T had a 41-28 edge on the boards). Our guys did what we asked them to do and we were able to walk out of here with a win."
The Aggies will begin a key stretch of the season on Saturday at Maryland-Eastern Shore at 4 pm. Five of the next seven games will be on the road.