GREENSBORO - Every North Carolina A&T men's basketball game in January has been a thrill ride. On Saturday, the Aggies built a big lead early, turned on some soft music and went into cruise control for most of the evening as they came away with a decisive 91-66 win over Maryland Eastern Shore at Corbett Sports Center.
In the Aggies (10-12, 5-2) previous six games in January, three of them went into overtime and all but one had been decided by five points or less. Saturday was different. The Aggies jumped out to a 24-6 over the first 10 minutes of the game. By the 7-minute mark of the first half, the Aggies had a 24-point advantage.
When Marc Hill connected on a 3-pointer two seconds before halftime, the Aggies walked into the locker room with a comfortable 49-26 lead. The Aggies shot 53 percent in the first half, while the Hawks shot just 29 percent.
"I don't think Eastern Shore hit its shots and they didn't shoot the way they would like to on the road, but they are a much better team than they portrayed today," said Aggies coach Jerry Eaves. "My guys did do a great job defensively."
The win gave the Aggies their fifth straight win, their longest winning streak in three seasons. Hill led five Aggies in double figures with 20 points on 4-for-4 shooting from 3-point range. Junior Adrian Powell added 15 points, four assists and eight rebounds. Junior Austin Witter added 11 points and nine boards.
The Aggies led by as many as 35 in the second half on a Nic Simpson layup. Simpson had 11 points, and he is 49 points shy of scoring his 1,000th point as an Aggie. Like Simpson, R.J. Buck came off the Aggies bench to score 11.
Hill built upon his last game where he scored 20 points and went 4-for-8 from three. Hill has now scored in double figures in his last seven games.
"The three he hit at the end of the half was a huge lift for us," said Eaves. "Marc is a tremendous shooter, and he is shooting a great percentage from the 3-point arc. He makes big threes all the time, and he's been playing like the senior that we need him to be."
Powell is also playing well for A&T. Powell is averaging 14.6 points over his last five games and is now averaging double figures for the season. During the same span, he is shooting better than 45 percent (11-for-24) from 3-point range.
"Adrian shooting the ball is not even an issue," said Eaves. "Sometimes he loses focus and won't run the play correctly or won't do the correct thing in the rotation defensive wise; but when it comes to scoring the ball Adrian Powell can do that, that is not an issue. He is a very efficient player."
Powell, Hill and the other Aggies while try to continue their winning ways with a home game against Delaware State (6-11, 3-3) Monday night at 8. The Aggies' five-game win streak has them in fourth place in the MEAC behind Norfolk State, Savannah State and Bethune-Cookman.
"This is very exciting for us," said Hill. "I don't think we've ever won five in a row since I've been here."
UMES was led by Mark Robertson's 11 points.