Sunday, January 24, 2016

NSU Moves into 2nd Place, Ties School Record for 3’s in 87-74 Win Over SC State

NORFOLK, Virginia  –  Norfolk State tied the school record for 3-pointers set earlier in the season, and a big first half propelled the Spartan men's basketball team to an 87-74 victory on Saturday evening at Joseph Echols Hall.

NSU had six players reach double figures in scoring, thanks in part to a first half in which the Spartans hit 10 3-pointers and shot nearly 61 percent from the field. They finished the game with 14 treys, tying the school record set earlier this year against DePaul in the Paradise Jam.

The Spartans outscored the Bulldogs 51-35 in the first stanza, the second time this season scoring 50 or more in a half. NSU hit 20-of-33 from the floor before the intermission but less than 40 percent in the second half.

Nevertheless, the victory bumped NSU into second place in the MEAC ahead of South Carolina State. The Bulldogs fell to 10-11 overall and 5-2 in the conference, breaking a five-game win streak in the process.

NSU, meanwhile, won for the fourth time in the last five games, improving to 9-12 overall and 5-1 in the MEAC behind first place Hampton (7-0). It marked the third game this year NSU scored at least 87 points against a MEAC school.

The Spartans shot 14-of-32 from the 3-point line, also tying the school record for attempts set against Coppin State on Jan. 30, 2012. Six of those treys on Saturday evening came from senior Charles Oliver, who shot 6-of-12 from beyond the arc and finished with a team-high 19 points. NSU finished with six players in double figures for the first time since Dec. 5, 2013 against Florida A&M.

Both teams got off to a ridiculous pace in the early going, with senior D'Shon Taylor hitting treys on back-to-back possessions to get NSU going. Oliver sank a trey at 13:18, the team's fifth of the night already, to put the Spartans up by seven, 22-15.

S.C. State's Eric Eaves, the team's leading scorer, countered by getting to the rim quickly on several occasions. He did so 30 seconds apart, with the second bucket making it 26-23 in favor of the Spartans at the midway point of the half. The Spartans countered, though, by outscoring the Bulldogs 16-6 in less than four minutes for a 13-point edge.

The scoring eventually slowed – NSU went four minutes without a point, but senior Jeff Short sank a pair of 3-pointers, and Oliver hit the 10th of the half with 34 seconds left to give the Spartans a 51-35 lead at the break.

The Bulldogs got to within single digits just once in the second half. Before that time, they had to overcome a 21-point NSU lead, as the Spartans scored seven of the first nine points of the second half. Up 21 at 58-37, the Spartans led by at least 16 before the Bulldogs got 3-pointers on three straight possessions to make it 64-53 with 8:54 left.

Oliver and Taylor each hit treys to keep the lead in double digits, but eventually S.C. State got it down to nine at 73-64 after another fastbreak layup by Eaves and two free throws from Greg Mortimer. Junior Jonathan Wade got a 3-point play off a Bulldog turnover, and NSU led by double digits, and as much as 16, the rest of the way.

Eaves finished with a game-high 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting and had all 12 of the Bulldogs fastbreak points on the night. Darryl Palmer was the only other Bulldog player in double figures with 13 points to go along with 10 rebounds.

With Eaves and Palmer not in the starting lineup, South Carolina State's bench scored 55 of the team's 74 points on the night. NSU also got 42 points from its bench as well.

South Carolina State also held a 36-30 edge on the glass, but NSU did its damage thanks to S.C. State's sloppiness. The Bulldogs had 17 turnovers, and the Spartans outscored them 30-9 in points off turnovers.

Taylor had 13 points and four assists, while sophomore Zaynah Robinson tied his career high with 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Taylor also had three 3-pointers, with senior Jeff Short also hitting three from beyond the arc. Short, though, finished with just nine points, failing to reach double figures for the first time in 10 games.

Wade, junior Preston Bungei and freshman Alex Long each added 10 points for NSU. Long led the Spartans with six rebounds and had two of the team's seven total blocks in the game. It marked the third straight game the team had at least five players reach double figures in scoring.

NSU ended the night 32-of-64 from the floor, while S.C. State hit 44.8 percent on 26-of-58 shooting. The Bulldogs also connected on 7-of-17 from long range and had 11 more attempts than NSU at the charity stripe.

The Spartans will host Savannah State on Monday at 8 p.m.


Mike Bello, Asst. SID

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