Tuesday, January 26, 2016

NSU Ties School Record for 3’s, Scores Season High in 92-73 Win over SSU

NORFOLK, Virginia -- For the second straight game and the second time in three days, the Norfolk State men's basketball team tied the school for 3-pointers, and the Spartans scored a season high in points in a 92-73 win over Savannah State on Monday night at Joseph Echols Hall.

Senior Charles Oliver hit 6-of-8 from beyond the arc and shot 8-of-11 overall for a career-high 25 points. He helped NSU hit 14-of-30 from 3-point range, tying the record originally set in November against DePaul in the Paradise Jam and then tied again on Saturday against South Carolina State.

The Spartans tied their season high for points in a half with 52 in the second after holding a 14-point lead at the break. Savannah State's only lead on the night came at the beginning when the Tigers scored the first bucket of the game. NSU led by double digits for most of the last 15 minutes of the first half, and by at least 20 most of the second stanza.

With the win, its fifth in the last six games, NSU improved to 10-12 overall and 6-1 in the MEAC. The Spartans now sit a half game behind Hampton for first place after the Pirates (7-1) lost to South Carolina State on Monday night.

NSU and Hampton will play the first Battle of the Bay of the season next Saturday when the Spartans travel to Hampton for a 6 p.m. matchup with first place in the league on the line.

Senior D'Shon Taylor and junior Jonathan Wade each added 14 points to the Spartan scoring effort, combining to hit 10-of-14 from the field in front of a crowd of 1,812. Senior Jeff Short also reached double figures with 13, and he, Taylor, Wade and sophomore Devonte Banner each had two 3-pointers.

The Spartans again started off on fire, jumping out to a 13-2 lead to start the game. The Spartans still led by 11 on a jumper by Wade and then two free throws by Oliver at the 11:03 mark. Those two points started a 10-0 run that put NSU up by 19, 27-8, with Oliver capping that spurt with a trey with eight minutes left before the half.

Taylor and Short each added buckets from beyond the arc for the Spartans, who eventually went up by as much as 21 when freshman Alex Long converted two from the foul line with just 4:26 left. The Tigers (7-11, 3-4 MEAC) did outscore the Spartans 10-3 from that point forward to close out the half, cutting the Norfolk State lead to 40-26 at the break.

NSU hit 7-of-14 from long range in the first half but just 43 percent overall. The Spartans hit better than 50 percent from the field in the second half and finished the game 24-of-51 (47.1 percent).

Norfolk State was also helped by a season-high 30-of-35 effort from the free throw line. The Spartans came into the game leading the nation in free throw percentage at 77.9 and bumped that number up by hitting 85.7 percent against the Tigers.

Isaiah Felder drained a 3-pointer less than a minute into the second half to get the Tigers to within 13. The Spartans quickly countered by scoring the next eight points in the game, and a short time later sophomore Zaynah Robinson hit two from the charity stripe to give NSU a 21-point lead, 54-33, with 15:50 still to go.

The advantage never dipped below 21 after that point, and a 10-0 run near the eight-minute mark gave the Spartans their biggest lead of the game at 32, 81-49.

Oliver had 12 points in second half after tallying 13 in the first. Long, meanwhile, posted career highs of nine rebounds, four blocks and three assists while scoring six points. Junior Brian Kelley had a career-high five assists and two of NSU's nine blocks on the night.

The Spartans held the edge on the glass, 35-29, although the Tigers did outscore NSU 28-14 in points in the paint and 13-6 in second-chance points. Norfolk State, meanwhile, had a season-high nine blocks.

Savannah State shot 25-of-60 (41.7 percent) from the floor, including 8-of-23 from 3-point range. Christopher Martin was one of five players in double figures for SSU with 16 points. Dexter McClanahan had 15, while Troyce Manassa tallied 14 points with a team-leading six rebounds.

NSU got another strong effort from its bench with 45 points.

Box Score

Mike Bello, Asst. SID

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