Sunday, February 7, 2016

Norfolk State Spartan Women Win 1st Game of Year in 2 OT Marathon at Howard

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- For a team that has faced more than its share of adversity all year, what was a little more on Saturday?

The Spartan women's basketball team lost a seven-point lead with three minutes left in regulation and had five players, including a trio of starters, foul out. But none of it was enough to prevent NSU from earning its first victory of the year, a 110-108 marathon win in double overtime over Howard at Burr Gymnasium.

Freshman guard Yazmen Hannah buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 0.5 seconds left in regulation to force overtime at 90-all. The teams played to a stalemate in the first OT before NSU pulled ahead and held on in the second extra session.

Hannah had a chance to seal the game at the line with 11 seconds left in the second OT, but she missed a pair of free throws. But Shaylon Tarver's deep, last-second 3-pointer at the horn missed as NSU (1-19, 1-9 MEAC) won for the first time since last year's MEAC tournament quarterfinals – 21 games ago, and also against these same Bison (3-18, 1-7).

NSU hit a season-high 12 3-pointers, one shy of the school record, and scored its most points ever against a Division I school. Only a 116-point night against Virginia-Lynchburg on Dec. 20, 2013 saw the Spartans score more than Saturday's 110.

NSU got career highs in points from Kiara Phillips (21) and Hannah (20) and a career-high 19 rebounds – to go with 15 points – from Siobhan Beslow. In all, a season-high six Spartans scored in double figures, including Koryn Lawrence with 16, Brehanna Daniels with 11 and Kayla Roberts with 10.

The Spartans hit six of their 12 treys in the first half alone, but Howard forced NSU into 12 turnovers and outscored NSU 10-2 from the free-throw line to take a 44-38 lead into the half. NSU came out firing in the third quarter, however. A 13-0 run included 3-pointers from Hannah, Daniels and Phillips on consecutive possessions as the Spartans took a 55-46 lead four minutes into the period. NSU outscored Howard 29-16 in the third quarter and led 67-60 entering the fourth quarter.

Howard gradually cut into its deficit, eventually tying the game at 77-all on a trey by Essence Brown with 5:13 left. NSU appeared to be in good shape, however, when Phillips hit a 3-pointer to give NSU an 82-77 lead. A short time later, Beslow scored on a put-back to give the Spartans an 86-79 edge with 3:37 remaining in regulation.

But NSU went cold, missing its next six shots from the floor and going nearly three minutes without a point. Bison forward Sydni Johnson scored off an offensive rebound to tie the score at 87-all with 36 seconds left.

The Spartans missed a shot and then turned the ball over at the other end, and Howard hit 3-of-4 free throws on its next possession. Imani Bailey hit 1-of-2 to put Howard into the lead, then rebounded her own missed second free throw. Teammate Te'Shya Heslip connected on two free throws to give the Bison a 90-87 advantage with just three seconds left.

NSU called a timeout to advance the ball to half court. Hannah then took the inbounds pass and drilled a triple to send the game into overtime.

There were four lead-changes in the first OT. Lawrence hit a jumper to give NSU a 100-99 lead with 14 seconds left, but Heslip tied it with a foul shot five seconds later. A Phillips 3-point try at the buzzer went awry, sending the game into another extra session.

NSU took control of the second OT with a 6-0 spurt that included a basket inside by Shayla Tanner and fast-break layups by Lawrence and Daniels, the latter giving NSU a 110-105 edge at the 1:06 mark. A layup by Johnson and one free throw Bailey in the game's final minute closed the gap to 110-108. NSU had a chance to add to its lead, but both Lawrence and Hannah missed a pair of free throws in the final 30 seconds.

But Howard couldn't capitalize and Tarver's last-gasp triple missed, ending a game which lasted two hours and 45 minutes.

NSU shot 47.3 percent for the game, tied for its second-best outing of the year. The Spartans were 12-of-24 (50 percent) from 3-point range, helping them offset a 12-of-30 (40 percent) night at the charity stripe. NSU's previous season high in made triples was five, and the 12 3-pointers are tied for the second most in school history behind a 13-trey game against S.C. State on Jan. 8, 2005.

NSU also enjoyed a 59-51 advantage on the boards, thanks in part to 28 offensive rebounds. Beslow had nine offensive boards and 10 defensively while notching her 11th double-double of the season and fifth in a row. Roberts also had a double-double, her fifth of the year, after finishing with 11 rebounds to go with her 10 points.

Hannah was 8-of-13 from the floor and hit a season-best four triples. Phillips and Alexys Long both made three, with Phillips adding five rebounds and five assists. Kieera Basey handed out a team-high six assists.

Bailey scored 37 points and Heslip had 23 points and 10 rebounds for Howard. Johnson scored 16, Erin Blaine 15 and Jasmine Hill 14 for the Bison.

The Spartans continue their road trip at UMES at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

Box Score

Matt Michalec, Asst. AD/Communications

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