Saturday, February 13, 2016

NSU Sets School Record for Blocks, Gets Balanced Effort in 79-73 Win over MSU

NORFOLK, Virginia --  The Norfolk State men's basketball team set the school record for blocks in a game and got a balanced scoring effort on Saturday night in a 79-73 victory over Morgan State at Joseph Echols Hall.

Five players scored in double figures for the Spartans, all between 11 and 13 points. Sophomore Jordan Butler finished 7-of-9 from the free throw line and led the team with 13 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks. His seven swats tied a career high and the school's Division I record shared with Kyle O'Quinn.

With the former Spartan great – and NSU career leader in blocks – in attendance on a day when NSU handed out bobbleheads with his likeness, Norfolk State finished with 17 blocks on the night. The Spartans surpassed the previous school record of 13 set at Savannah State on Jan. 5, 2005.

The victory improved NSU's record to 9-2 in the MEAC and 13-13 overall. Following South Carolina State's loss to Savannah State on Saturday, the Spartans moved into a tie for first place in the MEAC with Hampton, which was idle.

Morgan State, meanwhile, fell to 5-18 overall and 3-7 in the MEAC.

Junior D'Shon Taylor tallied 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks for the Spartans, while freshman Alex Long also had 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting with five rebounds and a career-high tying four blocks. They helped NSU outscore Morgan State 40-34 in points in the paint on a day when the Spartans hit just 3-of-23 (13.0 percent) from 3-point range.

The Spartans surged ahead late in the first half and led by as much as 17 later in the game before the Bears cut it down to single digits.

NSU built a five-point advantage with 14:05 on the clock in the first half on junior Preston Bungei's bucket in the lane. He also had another field goal with less than 10 minutes to go before the half, beginning a 9-2 run for NSU that pushed the lead to double digits for the first time on the night.

Senior Charles Oliver drained a 3-pointer from way beyond the right wing to cap that spurt and put NSU ahead by a 31-19 margin. Junior Jonathan Wade went to the free throw line twice within 14 seconds and made all four shots to get the lead up to 15. MSU's Rasean Simpson got the steal and layup with just seconds to go in the half to make it 43-30 at the break.

Oliver and senior Jeff Short each scored 11 points in the game.

Only once in the early part of the second half did Morgan State get to within single digits. NSU led by as much as 16 when Short drained a 3-pointer on the team's first possession of the second half. Up by 13 on a layup by Long with 14:48 left, NSU saw its lead shrink to eight on a trey and layup by the Bears on two straight possessions.

In a contest lacking major runs, NSU scored seven of the game's next eight points with less than 10 minutes remaining. Up 69-52 at that point after two free throws by Short at the 7:42 mark, NSU seemed to be in control. The Bears made it interesting by scoring eight straight to get the deficit to nine. Cedric Blossom later had a 3-point play and sank two from the line for a 76-67 Spartan lead with just 2:37 left.

MSU also scored six of the last seven points of the game to cut the deficit to six. Surprisingly, the Bears did not foul down by just five after a 3-pointer by Phillip Carr and a timeout with 28 seconds, at least not until there were just 4.5 seconds left in the game.

Blossom carried the Bears in the second half with 17 points, part of a 28-point effort in the game on 11-of-17 shooting. He also completed the double-double with 15 rebounds, as MSU held a slight 41-37 edge on the glass, including 17-9 in offensive boards and a 19-11 advantage in second chance points.

Simpson added 14 points and nine rebounds, while Carr and Andre Horne each tallied 11 points.

The Bears hit 29-of-72 (40.3 percent) for the game but just 5-of-18 from 3-point range and 10-of-19 from the foul line.

NSU, meanwhile, made 22-of-30 from the free throw line and 27-of-61 from the floor (44.3 percent). Bungei had six points for the Spartans and also added three blocks. Sophomore Zaynah Robinson contributed eight points and six assists as well.

NSU will travel to Delaware to face the Hornets of Delaware State next Saturday.

Box Score

Mike Bello, Asst. SID

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