FARMVILLE, Va. – A marquee defensive effort carried Norfolk State women's basketball to a 64-45 victory over Longwood on Saturday afternoon. With the win, the Spartans (7-5) enter the new calendar year and MEAC play riding the momentum of a five-game winning streak.
The five wins in a row marks the longest such streak in head coach Larry Vickers' young career. Additionally, the Spartans matched the record for most non-conference victories in the program's Division-I era while also recording the most non-conference wins over D-I competition in team history.
Norfolk State limited the Lancers (2-9) to 45 points – 12 below Longwood's season scoring average. Through 12 games, the Spartans have held 11 opponents below their season average in points and are 6-5 in such games. Kayla Roberts led all scorers with 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting. Roberts also grabbed four rebounds and came away with two steals. As a team, NSU registered 12 steals in the game, one off the season high.
Turnovers factored heavily into the final score, as Norfolk State scored 23 points off 24 Longwood giveaways. Conversely, the Spartans turned the ball over only 14 times and conceded five points off those turnovers. The Spartans struck first on a Raven Russell basket at the 8:36 mark of the first quarter and never trailed. NSU scored the game's first five points before Longwood finally scored on a 3-pointer by Kate Spradlin midway through the quarter.
Alexys Long and Ciarah Bennett traded 3-pointers before the Spartans scored eight of the next 11 points to lead 18-9 with 39 seconds left in the period. Longwood scored in the final seconds of the quarter to make the score 18-11 heading into the second quarter. Norfolk State ratcheted up the defensive pressure in the second quarter and led 32-20 at the break.
Longwood managed only nine points and one field goal during the second period. The Lancers went 1-of-6 from 3-point range in the quarter and shot 10 percent (1-of-10) from the floor. LWU relied on the whistle to generate scoring in the quarter – drawing six fouls and going 6-of-8 from the free throw line.
Norfolk State opened the second on a 7-2 run with Roberts scoring the first five points for the Spartans. Kristina Antonenko halted the run with a trey at the 5:14 mark. A minute later Casey Ripp split a pair of free throws to pull the Lancers to within eight, 25-17, but NSU scored seven of the next eight points and led 32-18 with 1:53 remaining in the half. Kendrea Dawkins scored the final five points of the half for Norfolk State and ended the game with six points, three rebounds and one trey.
NSU overcame a slow start to the third quarter to finish the period with 17 points on 50 percent shooting. The Spartans did not score a field goal until Roberts layup at the 7:38 mark, which made the score 35-23. Roberts hunted her shot in the third period and scored eight points in the quarter while going 3-of-3 from the field.
The Spartans opted to extend their defense during the third quarter and disrupted Longwood to the tune of eight turnovers. Norfolk State generated five steals during the period, including a strip and score by Armani Franklin that gave NSU a 39-25 lead with 6:37 on the clock.
Longwood trimmed the lead to 39-27 with 4:28 left in the quarter, but NSU closed out the period on a 10-3 run. Roberts gave the Spartans their first 20-point lead in the game on a free throw with 2:30 remaining. The Miami, Florida native answered a last-minute 3-pointer by the Lancers with a jumper to give Norfolk State a 49-30 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Both teams played even in the fourth quarter, scoring 15 points apiece. The Spartans led by as many as 22 on three occasions, but the Lancers cut the deficit to 16 with just under two minutes left in the game. Dayna Rouse knocked down a jumper at the 1:53 mark to make the score 61-45, but NSU shut the door on Longwood, who closed the game with two missed shots and a pair of turnovers.
Franklin scored the final three points of the game, all at the free throw line. The freshman made both free throws after coming down with an offensive rebound before splitting a pair with 31 seconds remaining. Kate Spradlin led Longwood with 13 points on 4-of-11 shooting. The Lancers out-rebounded the Spartans 37-36 and had two players, Antonenko and Rouse, with eight boards. Norfolk State assisted on 12 made field goals in the victory and now has double-digit assists in five-straight games. The Spartans are 6-1 when recording 10 or more assists in a game. Gabrielle Swinson had a team-high four helpers for NSU and also chipped in nine points, five rebounds and three steals.