Joe Bryant’s 24 not enough, Norfolk State falls 87-70 to no. 5 Baylor

Courtesy of Alex Lehmbeck, Asst. SID, Norfolk State Athletics

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Norfolk St. 2-1,0-0 MEAC

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 Baylor 2-0,0-0 Big 12

Norfolk St.34 36 70
Baylor42 45 87

WACO, Texas – On the road against a top-ten ranked team in the nation, Norfolk State men’s basketball held its own on Friday night against No. 5 Baylor. The Bears (2-0) used a second half push to defeat the Spartans 87-70 at the Ferrell Center.

Joe Bryant Jr. paced the Spartans (2-1) on both ends of the floor with 24 points and six rebounds, draining four of his nine 3-point attempts. Christian Ings scored an efficient 15 points on 6-8 shooting from the field, adding four assists and two steals.

As a team, the Spartans made 24-of-48 shot attempts (50 percent), hitting six of their 17 tries from behind the arc (35.3 percent). Baylor shot 49.1 percent from the field, scoring 23 points off turnovers to Norfolk State’s 11.

The teams shared a familiarity with one another – Baylor ended NSU’s 2021-22 season in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament just under nine months ago – but the Spartans hadn’t met one key member of the opposing squad until Friday night. Bears freshman Keyonte George lived up to the hype in the second game of his collegiate career, recording team-highs of 23 points and seven assists, making six 3-pointers.

The Spartans got on the board quickly with a rare sight: a deep shot by forward Kris Bankston. The fifth year made the first 3-pointer of his career to tie the game 3-3, his first-ever attempt from behind the arc at Norfolk State.

After a layup from Dana Tate Jr. and two Bryant free throws gave NSU its only lead of the night, George knocked down back-to-back threes to push Baylor ahead, drawing a foul on one for a four-point play. Ings soared for a baseline dunk to steady the Spartans, scoring 10 of his 15 points in the first period.

Baylor started to build a cushion in the first half, but multiple tough buckets from Bryant kept the Spartans from losing control. His second 3-pointer of the night cut the Bears’ lead to five, helping the Spartans stay within single digits until halftime.

After converting from deep to end the first half, Baylor’s Adam Flagler continued where he’d left off with another long ball early in the next period. Freshman George Beale Jr. responded with a mid-range jumper on the other end, but the Bears used an 8-0 run to gain a 17-point advantage.

The Spartans didn’t back down, though. Ings fought through contact for an impressive and-one giving the Spartans energy before Cahiem Brown and Chris Ford provided pivotal scores later in the half off the bench.

Bryant knocked down a 3-pointer and Bankston powered down a two-handed slam to cut the lead to 12 with under eight minutes to play, but that would be the closest NSU would come in the final stretch. The Bears continued to hit shots from deep, keeping any Spartan comeback from picking up steam.

The Spartans turn straight to another fierce road test, battling No. 8 UCLA at Pauley Pavillion on Monday at 10 p.m. ET.

Next Game:
11/14/2022 | 10 p.m.

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