title image via Naje Murray
Courtesy of Alex Lehmbeck, Asst. SID, Norfolk State Athletics
Norfolk State freshman Anjanae Richardson only needed two games to establish her name with an iconic, unbelievably clutch moment.
The Portsmouth product silenced the Philadelphia crowd with a go-ahead 3-pointer in the final 20 seconds of regulation on Wednesday, lifting the Spartans 51-49 over Drexel at Daskalakis Athletic Center.
Richardson finished the night with 14 points off the bench, draining three shots from behind the arc as Norfolk State improved to 2-0 on the season. Kierra Wheeler scored a game-high 15 points, pulling down nine rebounds.
Crystal White got the game started on the right foot, draining a 3-pointer on the first possession of the night. Drexel responded right back with a mid-range jumper, setting up the back-and-forth battle that would ensue over the next two hours.
A pair of jump shots from Wheeler pushed the Spartan lead to 7-4 early, but Drexel’s Brooke Mullin answered with a 3-pointer to tie things up. Richardson took the reins from there, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers in the final minutes of the first quarter.
Da’Naijah Williams increased NSU’s cushion to five with a driving layup early in the second quarter, but three consecutive baskets from the Dragons flipped the script. Skye Robinson slowed down the Drexel run with a hook shot in the paint, but a late 3-pointer gave DU a three-point advantage at the break.
Norfolk State’s veteran returners got to work in the third quarter. Wheeler made a pair of jump shots in quick succession, before Williams and Niya Fieldscontributed layups to put the Spartans back in front.
Wheeler continued to dominate the paint, converting a pair of inside scores. Drexel’s Grace O’Neal drained back-to-back 3-pointers to push the Dragons ahead, but Richardson sped through the lane for two points before the quarter ended. Drexel entered the final period with a 38-37 lead.
Momo Laclair and Makoye Diawaratraded layups to start the fourth quarter, but the Dragons took a four-point lead with an and-one score. Diawara responded with a three-point play of her own, bringing NSU within one.
Da’Brya Clark gave NSU the lead with three free throws down the stretch, but Drexel took a late lead with several trips to the free throw line. Richardson stepped up for the first of two clutch shots, scoring in the lane to tie the game 47-47 with under a minute to play.
Drexel stole back the advantage on a driving layup from Amaris Baker, forcing a Norfolk State timeout with under 30 seconds to play.
Facing a double team, Fields dished to the open Richardson, who let it fly from the top of the key. The ball rattled in for the go-ahead points, sending the Norfolk State bench into a frenzy of excitement.
Williams came up with the clutch play at the other end, tying up Mullin for a held ball and Drexel turnover. Richardson went to the line from there, knocking down one-of-two free throws with six seconds remaining, but the Dragons were unable to get a shot off in the closing seconds.
The victory marked Norfolk State’s first ever against Drexel, its only prior meeting a 54-47 loss in the 2022 WNIT.
Checking The Box Score
- Norfolk State freshman Anjanae Richardson tallied 14 points, including three 3-pointers
- Kierra Wheeler led NSU with 15 points and nine rebounds
- Amaris Baker led Drexel with 14 points and seven rebounds
- Makoye Diawara corralled seven rebounds for the Spartans
- Norfolk State trailed by two entering the fourth quarter, but outscored Drexel 14-11 in the final period
- The Spartans shot 5-of-12 (41.7 percent) from behind the arc
- Norfolk State held Drexel to a 5-of-21 (23.8 percent) shooting day from the 3-point line
- NSU tallied eight steals, with Williams and Richardson each accounting for two.
News & Notes
- Norfolk State improved to 2-0 on the season with the thrilling victory
- Wednesday marked the second time the Norfolk State and Drexel women’s basketball team have met. The squads squared off in the first round of the 2022 Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT), with the Dragons coming out victorious, 54-47
- Anjanae Richardson knocked down the go-ahead 3-pointer with 19 seconds to play
- Both of Norfolk State’s wins have come on the road against CAA opponents. The Spartans erased a 20-point deficit to defeat William & Mary on Monday evening.
Norfolk State will play its third consecutive road game on Sunday afternoon, battling in-state foe Radford at 2 p.m. at the Dedmon Center. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.