MEAC / Spartan Men / Sports

Spartans Surge Past N.C. A&T, 75-60

Zaynah Robinson

Zaynah Robinson

NORFOLK, Va. – Plagued by foul trouble throughout the first half, the Norfolk State men’s basketball team was able to brush it off and surge past North Carolina A&T late in a 74-60 victory on Monday night at Joseph Echols Hall.

The Spartans were down by one at intermission, as a 14-6 foul discrepancy in the first half forced NSU to continuously shuffle the lineup. Things started to improve for the Spartans in the second half, though, and the team’s hot shooting eventually led to a back-breaking run to close out the contest.

The Aggies pulled ahead by five with 13:04 left in the game after a bucket by Steven Burrough and a trey from Bruce Beckford. The Spartans scored seven of the game’s next nine points to tie the score at 49-all. A trey from freshman Malik Gray and a drive to the hoop by fellow rookie Zaynah Robinson capped a larger 14-4 run that put the Spartans ahead 54-51 with less than eight minutes left.

After the Aggies responded with a 3-pointer to make it 54-54, NSU finally pulled away. Following the under-eight media timeout, Short took the inbounds and drained a 3-pointer from the right corner, getting the kind bounce off the iron.

That trey began an 11-0 run, and the Aggies never threatened again. The Spartans finished out the game on a larger 20-6 spurt as they hit 16-of-24 from the floor in the second half alone. Short added seven points during that closing run, giving him 19 on the night on 5-of-10 shooting. He also hit 4-of-7 from beyond the arc, helping NSU finish 8-of-13 for the night from beyond the arc.

The Spartans connected on 28-of-46 overall (60.9 percent) to maintain second place in the MEAC. Thanks to N.C. Central’s victory over Hampton on Monday night, the Spartans now sit alone in second in the conference at 5-1. They also improved their overall record to 12-9.

Junior RaShid Gaston added 16 points on 7-of-10 shots, while Robinson tied his career high with eight points to go with three rebounds and three assists. Russell finished with a career-high eight points on 4-of-5 shooting and added two rebounds, two steals and two assists.

In a reversal of fate, foul calls went 11-6 in favor of the Spartans in the second half.

NSU raced out to a 14-5 lead to start the game, with a fastbreak dunk by senior LaTre’e Russell capping a short 7-0 run to get the lead up to nine at the 14:40 mark. The Aggies (5-15, 2-4 MEAC) trimmed the deficit to four, and the teams traded buckets until a 3-pointer by junior D’Shon Taylor and a pair of free throws by senior Jamel Fuentes put NSU up by 10, 26-16.

The Spartans got into major foul trouble, and the Aggies took advantage. N.C. A&T outscored the Spartans 18-7 over the last seven minutes of the half to go into intermission up 34-33.

Beckford led all scorers with 21 points on 5-of-11 shooting. He hit 10-of-12 from the free throw line, accounting for two-thirds of A&T’s total foul shots (18). Burrough was the only other Aggie in double figures with 11. For the night, North Carolina A&T sank 20-of-48 (41.7 percent), including just 6-of-22 from beyond the arc.

The Spartans outscored the Aggies 28-16 in points in the paint and had a slight edge on the boards, 26-21.

NSU will head back out on the road with a road trip to South Carolina State and Savannah State next weekend. The Spartans will face the Bulldogs on Saturday.