MEAC / Spartan Women / Sports

Roberts, Strode lead Spartans past defending MEAC champion N.C. A&T, 69-53


NORFOLK, Va.Kayla Roberts and Jordan Strode recorded 21 points each, propelling the Norfolk State women’s basketball team to a 69-53 victory over defending MEAC champion North Carolina A&T on Monday night at Echols Hall.

Roberts finished two blocks short of a triple-double, with 21 points, 10 rebounds and eight blocks. Her eight blocks is the second-most by a Norfolk State (11-9, 6-2 MEAC) player this season and third-most in school history. Strode recorded her second 21-point game in the last three games, while handing out three assists.

The Spartans outscored the Lady Aggies 16-10 in each of the first two periods, taking a 32-20 lead to the locker room at the intermission. The Spartans shot 50 percent (12-of-24) from the floor, while their defense limited North Carolina A&T (8-13, 4-4) to 25.8 percent (8-of-31), including just 9.1 percent (1-of-11) from deep.

Strode tallied 12 of her 21 points, while Roberts added eight points, four rebounds and two blocks in the first half.

The Aggies’ offense appeared to come to life in the third stanza, cutting the lead to eight on four different occasions, but Norfolk State answered right back each time pushing the lead back to double digits. A&T guard Dana Brown made a 3-pointer to cut the lead to seven with 52 seconds remaining in the frame, but Kiara Phillips answered back for the Spartans with a baseline jumper which made the score 48-39.

In the fourth, North Carolina A&T managed to cut the deficit to seven on two separate occasions, however that would be the closest they would get the rest of the game. Michelle Fitzgerald converted a Norfolk State turnover into a layup with 5:50 remaining, trimming the Spartans lead to 53-46. Once again, the Spartans had an answer. This time it was in the form of a 14-2 spurt over the next 4 minutes and 10 seconds, giving Norfolk State its biggest lead of the game at 67-48 with 1:40 remaining. Four players scored in the run for the Spartans, with Gabrielle Swinson capping the burst with a pair of free throws.

Roberts was 8-of-12 from the floor and 4-of-4 from the foul line. Her eight blocks also represent the third-most in a Division I game this season. Strode, meanwhile, was 8-of-17 from the floor and 2-of-4 from long distance. Swinson tallied nine points and a game-high six assists.

The Spartans shot 24-of-49 (49.0 percent) from the floor, including 3-of-7 (42.9 percent) from 3-point land, while holding the Aggies to 21-of-65 (32.3 percent) from the floor and 2-of-17 (11.8) from deep.

The two teams grabbed 36 rebounds apiece, but the Spartans had 11 blocks and nine steals, compared to zero blocks and four steals for the Aggies. The 11 blocks brought the team’s season total to 134, which is the second-most in a season in the Division I era and the third-most all-time in school history.

Norfolk State converted 17 turnovers by North Carolina A&T into 14 points, while the Aggies notched just nine points off of 17 miscues by the Spartans.

Norfolk State registered 13 fast-break points and did not allow a single transition point for North Carolina A&T.
Norfolk State will have four days off before starting a two-game road trip which will begin in Orangeburg, S.C. The Spartans will take on the Lady Bulldogs of South Carolina State on Saturday at 2 p.m.
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