NORFOLK, Va. - Behind a pair of 20-point efforts from sophomores Nic Thomas and Steven Whitley each, the Norfolk State men's basketball team topped Morgan State by a 76-65 score on Saturday night at Joseph Echols Hall. The Spartans shot 51 percent from the floor and held the Bears to just 30 percent shooting overall. Thomas and junior Derrik Jamerson Jr. each hit 4-of-5 from 3-point range, helping NSU to a 10-of-18 night from beyond the arc.
The victory, the third in a row for the Spartans and the fourth in a five-game span, improved their record to 5-3 in the MEAC as well as 7-16 overall. Jamerson was the third of three NSU players in double figures with 14. Whitley's 20 points, on 7-of-15 shooting, were a career high, and he tallied seven assists, six rebounds and two steals.?
Morgan State (8-14, 4-5 MEAC) led just twice in the game, both early in the first half. Tiwian Kendley led the Bears with 19 points, shooting just 6-of-17 from the field. Phillip Carr was held to just three points on 1-of-9 shooting, although he did grab a game-high 16 boards.
NSU, which led by double digits almost the entire second half, used an early 11-0 run in the first half for its first significant lead of the game, 18-8. The Spartans sank four 3-pointers in the first five and a half minutes to help build that 10-point advantage. The Bears then scored seven of the next nine points before senior Bryan Gellineau completed a 3-point play to make it a 23-15 ballgame at the 8:41 mark.
A little later, Whitley put up a high-arching, 30-foot 3-pointer at the shot clock buzzer, and senior Stavian Allen's emphatic dunk gave NSU an 11-point lead. Thomas sank a couple more 3-pointers, and Jamerson drained his third of the half as the Spartans eventually took a 39-29 lead into the break.
The Spartans made 8-of-13 from beyond the arc in the first stanza. A couple of jumpers by junior Alex Long helped push the Spartan lead to 14 early in the second half. Jamerson's trey from the left corner later gave them a 17-point edge at the 12:31 mark.
A 9-2 Morgan State run over the next three minutes got the Bears to within 10. They got as close as nine in the last several minutes of the game but could get no closer. Thanks in part to Carr, Morgan State outrebounded NSU, 41-36. It marked the first time the Spartans were outrebounded in nine games. Senior Preston Bungei led NSU with nine rebounds. The Spartans shot 25-of-49 (51.0 percent) overall while holding MSU to a 19-of-64 night (29.7 percent). That included a 6-of-20 effort from 3-point land.