Troy Baxter’s strong game leads Morgan State over Norfolk State, 78-74

Courtesy of Morgan State Athletic Communications

Box Score

NORFOLK, Va., Jan. 9, 2021
 – Senior standout Troy Baxter helped the Morgan State’s basketball team make a statement Saturday on the road for its Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) opener, defeating Norfolk State 78-74.

Baxter scored a game-high 24 points and got the Bears going early as he had 11 of the team’s first 13 points. The 6-foot-9 sharpshooter scored off the dribble, behind the arc and had a couple of sensational dunks to give the Bears an excellent start.

Morgan State (5-2) grabbed its first win over the Spartans since Jan. 4, 2017, when the Bears held on to beat Norfolk State 58-56 at Hill Field House. Norfolk State falls to 4-4 overall and 0-1 in MEAC play.

Baxter put up points for the second-highest scoring game of his season, shooting 8-for-19 and 4-of-8 from 3-point range, plus two rebounds and a blocked shot.

Senior forward Lagio Grantsaan recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds, junior Trevor Moore had seven points and six boards, and junior Sherwyn Devonish and freshman Naseem Khaalid chipped in six points apiece. 

The Bears jumped out to a 13-2 lead in the opening minutes, controlling the backboards and shooting 58.1 percent overall and 41.7 percent from 3-point range while the Spartans struggled to get going offensively.

Baxter scored on a baseline dunk to extend to 43-24 with 3:56 remaining to give the Bears its largest lead of the contest.

The Bears held a commanding 48-32 lead at the intermission.

Devante Carter, who entered as one of the top players in the league  averaging 16.1 points (No. 3 in MEAC), was limited to just 4 points (1-4 FG) in the first half and finished with 10 points for the game.

Norfolk State got into a firmer defensive standing in the second half, limiting the Bears to 9-of-40 shooting and three 3-pointers on 14 attempts. The Spartans opened the second half by outscoring the Bears 13-4 to cut the lead to under 10. Jalen Hawkins hit a 3-pointer to trim the Bears lead to 64-59.  

Baxter ended the Spartans’ run with his fourth 3-pointer of the game, this time from the top of the key with 7:51 remaining.   

Hawkins went 4-for-4 from the free throw line to help spark a 10-3 run over the next 3 minutes. Carter converted a 3-point play after being fouled on a putback to trim the Bears lead to 70-69 with 3:52 remaining.  

The defense for both teams tightened down the stretch as neither squad was able to get off a clean shot at the basket. 

Carter ended up breaking the drought when he scored with 57 seconds remaining to cut the lead to 72-71. After a timeout by the Spartans, junior Malik Miller connected with Devonish for a backdoor layup, and followed it up by hitting a pair of free throws to give the Bears a 76-71 lead with 21 seconds to go.

The Spartans responded when Kashaun Hicks hit a contested corner 3-pointer in front of his bench to pull his team back to 76-74.

Trevor Moore was fouled and sent to the line with 4.9 seconds remaining. The junior buried both free throws to help seal the Bears first conference win of the season.  

Kashaun Hicks paced the Spartans with 20 points (7-14 FG), Hawkins had 14 points and Mustafa Lawrence added 10. 

Morgan State held a 47-38 advantage on the boards and had 19 assists.

Despite a hot shooting first half in which the Bears made 5-of-12 3-pointers and shot 58.1 percent overall, they finished up shooting 30.8 percent from 3-point range for the game and 38 percent overall. They also made 16-of-18 free throws.

The Bears will be back in action when they play Norfolk State on Sunday, with tip scheduled for 2 p.m. The game will stream live on FloHoops.

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