NORFOLK, Va. – The Norfolk State men’s basketball held off Howard in the second half before pulling away late to earn a 73-65 win on Senior Night on Saturday at Joseph Echols Hall.
The Spartans never led by double digits until there was less than three minutes left in the game. But Howard was never able to get a run going in the second half as NSU shot better than 50 percent after the intermission. Four players scored in double figures for the Spartans, who moved one step closer to securing the No. 2 seed in the MEAC tournament that starts in a week and a half.
NSU overcame a 28-point night from Howard’s Charles Williams, who shot 10-of-25 from the floor and 5-of-11 from 3-point range. HU also held a 48-37 edge on the glass, including 23-8 in offensive rebounds, but was never able to take advantage.
In the end, the Bison shot just 33 percent from the floor compared to 48 percent for NSU. The Spartans also used their advantage at the free throw line, including in a back-and-forth first half.
Senior Jonathan Wade posted 16 points and 11 rebounds with four assists for NSU, his sixth double-double in seven games. The victory improved Norfolk State’s record to 15-14 overall and 12-3 in the MEAC. NSU can finish no worse than third in the league and can lock up second place with a win Monday at Hampton.
NSU picked things up after a slow first half. The teams went into the break tied at 32-32. Howard never led by more than three in the entire game, and that was the exact margin when Williams and Damon Collins had back-to-back layups early in the second period.
The Bison’s advantage did not last, as NSU scored the next nine points to jump ahead 46-40 and force a Howard timeout. Senior Kerwin Okorogot it started with a three-point play, and the Spartans eventually stretched the run to 15-3 to go up by nine at 52-43.
Williams drained a 3-pointer to help Howard eventually cut the deficit to four, still with nine minutes left in the contest. NSU actually went five and a half minutes with a bucket, with a pair of jumpers from junior Dan Robinson bookending that cold spell. The Bison were just not able to take advantage, only getting as close as that four-point margin twice during that time.
The Spartans never pulled away during that time either thanks in part to a 10-of-18 second-half free throw shooting performance. They still only led by five with 4:13 left after a pair of free throws by HU’s Kofi Andoh. That was all the Bison could muster, as a 12-2 run from the Spartans put them ahead by 15. Wade hit his second 3-pointer of that run with 1:35 left to essentially put the game out of reach.
Okoro, one of three seniors playing their last home game along with Wade and Carrington Ward, tallied 13 points on 4-of-9 shooting before fouling out late. Junior Zaynah Robinson also scored 16 points with five assists, five rebounds and three steals.
NSU made 12-of-16 from the charity stripe in the first half, a period in which neither team could get much offense going early on. The lead changed hands nine times in the first 13 minutes of the game, and the score was still just 13-13 at the halfway point. The 10th time the lead changed, it came during an 11-4 run for the Spartans that made it 28-24 with 4:11 left.
Howard tied it up three more times after that, the last on a jumper by Williams with time ticking down to make it 32-32 at the break.
Howard only made 23-of-69 from the floor for the game compared to a 24-of-50 night for NSU. The Bison outscored the Spartans 16-4 in second-chance points thanks to their plus-15 edge on the offensive glass.
The contest featured a combined 57 fouls.
NSU will close out the regular season on Monday night at Hampton in the Battle of the Bay. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU at 9 p.m.
Originally published at nsuspartans.com