Courtesy of Alex Lehmbeck, Asst. SID, Norfolk state Athletics
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Norfolk State survived a late push from North Carolina A&T on Sunday afternoon at the Boost Mobile HBCU Challenge Hosted by Chris Paul, defeating the Aggies 70-66 at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Dana Tate Jr. propelled the Spartans to their third straight victory, hitting six 3-pointers en route to a career-best 24 points. NSU finished the event 2-0 for the weekend, and also secured a 4-0 record against CAA opponents during nonconference play with wins over N.C. A&T, Hampton, William & Mary, and Monmouth this season.
Kris Bankston dominated both ends of the floor as well for the Spartans. He finished with 16 points and eight rebounds while shooting 7-of-8 from the field, knocking down a pair of go-ahead free throws in the final minute. The standout performance earned him All-Tournament honors.
North Carolina A&T started the game hot, jumping out to an early 10-2 lead. Back-to-back buckets from Joe Bryant Jr.helped the Spartans claw their way back, with Tate’s first deep shot of the day pushing NSU ahead by two.
Nyzaiah Chambers made a contested layup in the paint to give NSU a seven-point lead late in the first half, which would tighten to six by the break. Back-to-back scores from Tate and a Terrance Jones 3-pointer got the Spartans rolling in the second half.
Jones played a career-high 33 minutes with point guard Christian Ings out on Friday, and he enjoyed a career night. The sophomore scored seven points and dished out two assists, while stepping up defensively on and off the ball, recording a career-high eight rebounds.
Another combination of Tate and Jones jumpers pushed NSU ahead by nine, before Tate knocked down his final 3-pointer of the night with just over six minutes on the clock.
The Spartans took an eight-point lead into an N.C. A&T timeout in the closing minutes, but the Aggies came out of the break firing, hitting an immediate 3-pointer and knocking down another after an NSU turnover.
N.C. A&T evened the game at 66 with a fastbreak layup and forced a miss on the other end, but Bankston drew a foul while husting for the offensive rebound. The 6-9 forward showed his clutch gene by sinking both free throws, and the Spartans got the defensive stop they needed out of the ensuing timeout.
Bryant hit a pair of freebies after securing the rebound, extinguishing any chance of a last-second comeback. The Spartans shot 12-of-13 from the free throw line as a team, their best mark of the season (92.3 percent).
Norfolk State isn’t quite finished with its time in the Silver State. The Spartans head to Reno for a Wednesday night matchup against the Nevada Wolf Pack, a 5 p.m. ET tip.