Courtesy of Alex Lehmbeck, Asst. SID, Norfolk State Atheltics
NORFOLK, Va. – Dana Tate Jr. scored 21 points in front of over 3,000 passionate Spartans fans on Monday evening at Echols Hall, leading Norfolk State to a 77-71 victory over the visiting North Carolina Central Eagles.
Tate, who notched his second consecutive game scoring over 20 points, shot 7-of-11 from the floor and made five 3-pointers in his offensive outburst. Cahiem Brown paced the Spartans on the glass with eight rebounds to go with 17 points, while Joe Bryant Jr. continued his superb fifth year with 18 points, despite attempting just nine shots.
Norfolk State (15-7, 5-2 MEAC) moved into third place in the conference with the win, one game behind both Howard and Maryland Eastern Shore. North Carolina Central (10-11, 3-4) took its third consecutive loss.
Bryant gave the Spartans an early 3-2 lead with a spot up 3-pointer from a Tyrese Jenkins assist, but foul trouble plagued the reigning MEAC Player of the Year throughout the evening. After picking up his third foul with over five minutes remaining in the first half, the Spartans turned to their bench at the guard position.
Despite his limited time on the court early, Bryant still led the scoring department at the break with 12 points, including two 3-pointers and four free throws.
After Tate knocked down his first deep ball of the night, Terrance Jones provided a steal-and-score to put the Spartans ahead 12-4. Jenkins knocked down a 3-pointer moments later, as the Spartans built a lead as large as 13 in the first half.
Five consecutive points from the Eagles before halftime trimmed the lead to seven, before North Carolina Central quickly cut it to two with a pair of baskets in the next period. NCCU took its first lead since the 18:42 mark of the first half with Brendan Medley-Bacon’s and-one layup, but Tate responded with a 3-pointer on the other end.
Bryant and Tate traded baskets with the Eagles over the next few minutes, until Tyrese Jenkins pushed NSU’s advantage to five with a timely 3-pointer. Nyzaiah Chambers knocked down his third 3-pointer of the season to make that lead six with under 10 minutes remaining.
Tate continued to deliver from deep, putting NSU ahead by nine in the final minutes with his fifth and final 3-pointer of the night: a behind the back, stepback swish that appeared to be the final dagger. But Justin Wright wouldn’t let NCCU go away quietly, knocking down back-to-back shots from behind the arc to make it a one possession game in the final minute.
Needing a bucket to put the Eagles away, the Spartans turned to their most reliable scorer. Bryant drove to the basket and muscled over a NCCU defender for the right handed finish. The basket gave NSU a five point lead, and Brown closed things out by making two free throws in the final seconds, finishing 11-of-13 from the charity stripe.
Norfolk State now approaches a small break in the MEAC schedule, playing its next conference game on Feb. 11 at UMES. But the Spartans still have some important basketball coming up before then, facing Hampton in Newark, N.J. in the Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic on Saturday, Feb. 4. A win would mark the Spartans second victory against the Pirates this year.
Next Game: vs. Hampton 2/4/2023 | 5 p.m. TNT WNSB 91.1 FM