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Three-Point Contest Goes In Aggies' Favor

Courtesy: NC A&T Sports Information
          Release: 01/23/2012
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Senior guard Nic Simpson had a team-high 22 points and sent Monday's game into overtime with a layup. Photo By Kevin L. Dorsey
Courtesy: NC A&T Sports Information

BALTIMORE - Junior forward Adrian Powell hit a game-winning shot for the second consecutive game as North Carolina A&T beat Coppin State 93-92 in what was a thrilling overtime contest at the Physical Education Complex.

Powell led the Aggies with 15 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Nic Simpson added 22 points on 5-for-8 shooting from 3-point range. Coppin State's Michael Harper had 30 points after connecting on six 3-pointers.

The drama-filled game was played in front of a nationally-televised audience on ESPNU as the lead changed six times in the five-minute overtime period. The nation also saw the two teams hit 15 3-pointers apiece.

Powell fired the final blow with a wide open 3-pointer with 39 seconds remaining.

 Coppin State (9-11, 4-3) had three chances to win the game, but all three shots misfired, including Antonio Williams' attempted tip-in at the buzzer.  

"I kept trailing the play and calling (point guard Marc Hill's) name because I knew I was going to be open," said Powell about his game-winning shot that came 48 hours after he hit a runner at Morgan State to beat the Bears 62-61 on Saturday night.

"All of us our capable of hitting big shots like that," he continued. "The ball just keeps ending up in my hands."

The ball was in his hand again late in regulation with the Aggies trailing 81-79 with 5.3 seconds remaining. Powell found senior guard Nic Simpson cutting behind Coppin State's extended defense for a reverse layup that tied the game at the buzzer.

"We have a play we call 12 that allows Nic to make a few reads," said A&T coach Jerry Eaves. "He read their defense perfectly and went backdoor to make a clutch play."

Michael Murray gave the Eagles a 90-87 lead two minutes into the overtime, but Hill answered with his fourth 3-pointer of the game as he ended the night with 20 points. After two Ellis free throws, Simpson missed a 3-pointer, giving the Eagles a chance to put the game away.

But Murray's three missed long, setting up Powell's game winner. Eaves, who said he spoke with CSU head coach Ron "Fang" Mitchell on Sunday night about what a good game they were about to play, saw his team win its third straight road game and fourth straight overall to improve to 9-12 overall and 4-2 in the MEAC.

"Coach Mitchell's team played with a ton of character and so did mine," he said. "We just happened to hit the last shot."

A&T hit almost every shot to open the game. The Aggies hit four 3-pointers in the first 7 ½ minutes of the game to take an 18-2 lead. Austin Witter's layup with 49 seconds remaining in the first half gave the Aggies their biggest lead of the game at 44-24, as they hit 9 of 17 from 3-point range.

Coppin State used the 20-footer to get back into the game. The Eagles hit 10 of their 20 3-pointers after halftime. Ellis' 3-pointer with 6:35 remaining regulation gave the Eagles their first lead of the game at 70-69.

"I mean they shot the lights out," said Eaves. "Neither team let up. There was some super shots made in that gym tonight. It was just one gorgeous basketball game. It was played at a high quality. ESPNU got their money's worth on this one."

The Aggies now find themselves in the upper portion of the MEAC standings as they return home for two games. They play Maryland Eastern Shore Saturday, Jan. 28 at 2 p.m., before hosting Delaware State on Monday, Jan. 30 at 8 p.m.

"We've got to go home and take care of our own court," said Eaves. "UMES is a big, strong, competitive team. They have a lot of good guards. It's going to be a dogfight for us."

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