GREENSBORO - The North Carolina A&T men's basketball team went from one end of the basketball spectrum to the other. Delaware State held A&T without a field goal over the final 13 minutes of the game to earn a 56-41 win at Corbett Sports Center on Monday.
The Aggies performance was in stark contrast to their previous two games in which they scored at least 90 points in each contests. Forty-one points is a season-low scoring output for the Aggies, who connected on just four field goals in the second half, and were 2-for-17 from 3-point range.
As a result, the Aggies (10-13, 5-3) saw their five-game winning streak come to an end.
"We played poorly in every aspect," said Aggies coach Jerry Eaves. "We had no energy, we had no life and we couldn't hit a shot. It kind of snowballed, and they dropped their heads a little bit. We played fairly good defense, things just didn't go correctly. That's the bottom line. We'll just have to regroup."
Adrian Powell scored in double figures for the sixth straight game as he finished with 17 points and eight rebounds on 6-for-12 shooting. Those were perhaps the only positive numbers from the game. Even someone like Marc Hill, who has been netting everything that leaves his finger tips lately, was 0-for-9 from the floor.
"We have played extremely hard and extremely well for a long period of time," said Eaves. "We were just a little flat today. They prepared, and they prepared all week. They just didn't have it today. We'll find a way to where we can play better, but this is the first time we truly just didn't have it and we could not make a shot."
Two of the Aggies' biggest problems stood at 6-foot-10 and 6-foot-7. DSU center Kendall Gray, a 6-10 freshman out of Dover Del., and 6-7 forward Marques Oliver stood fortresses against Aggie shot attempts in the lane. As a team, the Hornets (7-11, 4-3) blocked 12 shots with Gray leading the way with five, and Oliver contributing with four swats.
Jeremy Underwood was able to free himself from the shot blockers on one occasion as he scored on a runner to tie the game at 38 with 13:21 to play. It was the Aggies final made field goal of the game. A Tahj Tate steal and layup gave the Hornets a two-point advantage. After a R.J. Buck free throw, the Aggies were looking to take the lead on their next possession.
But an Oliver block led to an Oliver layup on the other end as the Hornets took a 42-39 lead with 10 minutes to play. The Hornets took their biggest lead of the game when Gray caught a missed 3-pointer off the rim and dunked it to give DSU a 45-40 lead with 6:30 remaining.
The Aggies offense continued to struggle as they had three more shots over the next 3 ½ minutes. A Nic Simpson free throw cut the lead to four, but a Casey Walker tip-in and 3-pointer gave the Hornets a 50-41 lead with 1:26 remaining. That type of lead is substantial when the Hornets deliberate, methodical style of play is brought into play.
"Bethune-Cookman plays the exact same way," said Eaves referring back to the Aggies only other home loss this season, 59-56 loss to the Wildcats on Jan. 7. "Our players don't know to bring their bumpers with them when they're playing these types of teams."
The Aggies held a 13-8 lead in the first half thanks to an excellent feed in the post from Simpson to Buck. DSU rallied to take a four-point lead on Tyshawn Bell 3-pointer. Powell scored a floater to cut the lead to four before Simpson gave the Aggies a 27-26 lead with his first and only 3-pointer of the night. But Tate was able to send the Hornets into the locker with a one-point lead as he knocked down a jumper with five seconds to go in the half.
"We just didn't hit shots. Sometimes that happens," said Eaves.
The Aggies will try to rectify their shooting problems on Saturday when they face B-CU in Daytona Beach, Fla., at 4 p.m.