NORFOLK, Virginia -- Norfolk State outscored Florida A&M by 17 in the second half on the way to a 77-56 men's basketball win over the Rattlers on Saturday evening at Joseph Echols Hall.
The Spartans broke a four-game losing streak with their second solid win of the year in conference play. NSU led by four at the break but exploded in the second half, shooting 50 percent and outscoring the Rattlers 50-33.
The victory improved NSU's MEAC record to 2-0 and its overall mark to 6-11. The Spartans are now just one of two teams in the league without a loss along with Hampton (3-0).
Senior Jeff Short led the Spartans and was one of four players in double figures with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting. He added seven boards and four assists as well. NSU also got a strong showing from senior D'Shon Taylor, who tallied his second double-double of the year with 13 points and 11 rebounds while adding two assists and two steals.
Florida A&M (5-11, 1-2 MEAC) was led by Malcolm Bernard, who posted 16 points, nine rebounds and five assists. The Rattlers, though, shot just 17-of-56 (30.4 percent) from the floor and committed 16 turnovers.
NSU turned it around after a lackluster first half in which the Spartans shot just 36 percent. The Rattlers were down by as little as three early in the second half before an 8-0 run, including four points from sophomore Devonte Banner, gave the Spartans their first double-digit lead of the game.
The lead stretched to 13 at 45-32 after a pair of free throws by senior Charles Oliver at the 14:13 mark. A few minutes later Florida A&M cut the deficit to eight, but that marked the last time the Rattlers got to within single digits. Still, NSU never led by more than 14 as the game wore on. Then up 63-52 with five minutes left, the Spartans finally broke the game open.
Taylor sank a 3-pointer with three and a half minutes left to begin a 12-1 run that gave the Spartans a 22-point lead with a minute left. Sophomore Zaynah Robinson made two free throws for the final scoring as he finished with nine points on the night.
Short and Taylor combined for 20 points in the second half, and NSU hit 15-of-30 overall after the intermission.
Freshman Alex Long, meanwhile, added a career-best 11 points with five rebounds. He shot 4-of-5 from the floor as NSU hit 25-of-58 (43.1 percent) for the game.
The first stanza was a half of runs, first for Florida A&M when the Rattlers started the game up 8-2 after three minutes of play. Long had a pair of buckets and Oliver completed a 3-point play to finish a 13-1 run that lasted nearly three and a half minutes. That gave the Spartans a 15-9 lead, the largest of the first half.
The Rattlers immediately responded by scoring the game's next nine points, and Florida A&M still had the lead after Justin Ravenal drained a trey at the 5:56 mark. Down 21-19 at that point, the Spartans closed the half on an 8-2 run for a 27-23 lead at the break. Oliver led all players with seven points.
On the night, NSU outscored the Rattlers 30-16 in points in the paint, 21-6 in points off turnovers and 10-2 in fastbreak points.
NSU also held the rebounding edge 42-32 and did not allow FAMU to score a second-chance point. Along with Taylor and Short, sophomore Jordan Butler added seven rebounds with five points, three blocks and two steals.
Both teams made eight 3-pointers in the game. NSU also connected on 19-of-24 from the free throw line.
The Spartans will host Bethune-Cookman on Monday at 8 p.m. to close out the weekend.
Matt Michalec, Asst. AD/Communications
COURTESY NORFOLK STATE UNIVERSITY SPORTS INFORMATION