SAVANNAH, Ga. – For the third game in a row, the Norfolk State men’s basketball team shot better than 60 percent overall, and the result on Monday night was a 70-54 victory over Savannah State in MEAC action at Tiger Arena.
The Spartans hit 28-of-45 from the field (62.2 percent) to win their third in a row and fifth in the past six games. The victory moved their record to 7-1 in conference play, with all seven victories coming by at least 14 points. NSU improved to 14-9 overall.
Junior RaShid Gaston had 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting and 13 rebounds for his second straight double-double. He had 11 points in the second half as NSU pulled away from the Tigers after SSU had cut the deficit to just six.
Gaston had eight points during a 12-4 run midway through the second stanza. NSU later went on a 15-4 spurt right near the end of the game to go up by as much as 19.
Savannah State (5-15, 1-5 MEAC) led in the early part of the game, but NSU took a 10-point lead at the break. The teams traded buckets early in the second half before Savannah State scored six straight to get to within six, 39-33, at the 14:20 mark. Freshman Jordan Butler stopped the bleeding with a three-point play, and Gaston scored eight points during a 12-4 run for the Spartans that made it 54-39 with 6:27 on the clock.
The Tigers made one last run. Alante Fenner sank a pair of free throws at 3:55 to cap an 8-1 run, cutting the Spartan lead to eight, 55-47. NSU, though, scored 15 of the next 19 points in the game to put Savannah State away for good.
The Spartans connected on 16-of-24 in the second half. For the game, they also shot 5-of-12 from 3-point range.
NSU had its good and bad moments in the contest. The Spartans had a big edge on the glass, 38-20, and outscored the Tigers by a 20-8 margin in second chance points. Butler had a career-high five blocks, helping the Spartans finish with a 10-0 edge in rejections for the night.
For the second game in a row, though, NSU had more than 20 turnovers. Savannah State had just 10 giveaways compared to 21 for the Spartans, although NSU still led in points off turnovers, 13-10.
Along with Gaston, NSU had three other players in double figures. Junior Jeff Short added 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting, while junior D’Shon Taylor added 13 on 5-of-7 shooting. Senior Jamel Fuentes scored 10 points on 4-of-7 field goal attempts for his first double-figure scoring game of the season.
Savannah State shot 20-of-55 (36.4 percent) for the game, including a 1-of-12 effort from beyond the arc. Brian Pearson led the Tigers with 14 points.
Pearson sank a pair from the free throw line to give Savannah State an early 11-7 lead four and a half minutes into the contest. The Spartans then held the Tigers scoreless for nearly five and a half minutes. Their 7-0 run only got the lead to three, 14-11, as Fuentes finished it off with a jumper in the lane.
Senior Malik Thomas put NSU up by eight, 25-17, after sinking back-to-back 3-pointers, the latter near the right corner with 5:02 to go before intermission. The Spartans led by as much as 11 after Gaston hit a pair of layups with less than two minutes left, and NSU went into the half up 31-21.
Thomas had seven points, five rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Butler totaled five points, six rebounds, five blocks, two assists and two steals.
NSU will return home to host Hampton in the Battle of the Bay on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Joseph Echols Hall.
Originally Posted on NSUSpartans.com