MEAC / Spartan Men / Sports

NSU unable to overcome MSU late in 78-74 Loss

STARKVILLE, Miss. – The Norfolk State men’s basketball team gave it a ride on Friday night at Humphrey Coliseum, but the Spartans were unable to completely overcome Mississippi State in the end in a 78-74 loss to the Bulldogs of the SEC.

Senior Jonathan Wade had a career game in the team’s season opener, posting career highs of 18 points and 12 rebounds. Junior Zaynah Robinson join him in double figures with 21 points, a career best for him as well, topping his 19-point effort from last year.

MSU, on the other hand, got big efforts from Quinndary Weatherspoon (22 points, 9-of-16 shooting) and Tyson Carter (17 points, including 14 in the second half). Carter had five 3-pointers in the game, helping the Bulldogs hit 11-of-23 overall from beyond the arc.

NSU had the Bulldogs on the ropes much of the game. MSU never led by more than 12, which came with five and a half minutes left, but the Spartans still outscored the Bulldogs 12-2 during a five-and-a-half minute stretch after that point.

Junior Kyle Williams hit a pair of free throws with 1:23 left to cut the deficit to 74-70. Just 30 seconds later, Robinson made two more from the line to make it a one possession game, and junior Micah Gossdrove to the hoop for two after MSU went 1-of-2 from the line. But down by just two with 7.5 seconds left after that bucket, NSU watched Mario Kegler hit both of his free throw attempts to ice the win.

Playing with just nine of their 13 eligible players, and with their big men in foul trouble throughout the game, the Spartans nevertheless kept it close. Norfolk State never fell behind by more than five in the first half and forced MSU to play catch up before the break.

The two squads wasted little time getting the scoring going, trading alley-oop dunks within the first couple of minutes to set the early tone. Wade had seven points before the first media timeout, including a putback layup off his own missed and-1 free throw, that gave the Spartans an early advantage. Robinson hit a trey from the left corner and converted a fastbreak layup to again put NSU in the lead seven minutes into the contest.

Williams hit a wide-open 3-pointer from the left wing at the 5:22 mark to keep the Bulldogs from pulling ahead. Robinson then had seven points during a 10-1 run that pushed NSU’s lead to six with three minutes left in the half. But after Goss drained a trey with two minutes left, MSU got a trio of buckets to tie the score at 39-39 going into the break.

The lead changed 11 times overall in the first half.

The Bulldogs came out of the half and opened a nine-point lead thanks in part to a trio of 3-pointers. NSU came back, with junior Dan Robinson converting a 3-point play and junior Alex Brown scoring a pair of buckets to cut the MSU lead to 58-55 with 10 and a half minutes left.

A few minutes later, Carter sank his third 3-pointer of the half, and Weatherspoon’s alley-oop dunk put the Bulldogs up by 10. Robinson had a couple of buckets, including a shot from beyond the arc at 6:13 that cut the MSU lead to seven. The Bulldogs went up by 12 less than a minute later before the Spartans made their final run in the contest.

Both teams shot relatively the same from the floor, with MSU hitting 28-of-60 (46.7 percent) and NSU countering with a 26-of-57 effort (45.6). The Spartans outscored the Bulldogs by six at the free throw line thanks to nine more attempts, but MSU’s big advantage from beyond the arc proved to be the difference.

Zaynah Robinson added five assists, three rebounds and three steals on the night while shooting 7-of-14 from the floor.

For Mississippi State, Aric Holman added 11 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. I.J. Ready totaled 14 points with seven assists.

NSU will play its home opener on Sunday when the Spartans host Shenandoah at Joseph Echols Hall beginning at 6 p.m. It will also mark the first official contest in the arena since the completion of NSU’s new Daktronics video board.

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