NORFOLK, Va. The Norfolk State men's basketball team held Savannah State to a nearly eight-minute scoring drought in the second half, and NSU came out victorious over the Tigers by a 57-47 score on Thursday evening in the quarterfinal round of the MEAC tournament.
The victory propelled NSU (19-13) into the semifinals of the tournament at Scope Arena, where the Spartans will face North Carolina Central on Friday at 6 p.m.
The Spartans were only up by one at the break but led the entire second half of the game. NSU scored seven straight out of intermission, but the big run did not start until Savannah State had cut the deficit to just one thanks to a 9-2 run with 12 and a half minutes left.
Up 33-32 at the point, NSU put together a 13-0 run, sparked at first by a trey from senior Pendarvis Williams at the 10:32 mark with the shot clock winding down. Senior Marese Phelps followed with a trey from the right corner, Williams converted a 3-point play around a media timeout, and Phelps finished off the spurt with a fastbreak layup that had the green and gold crowd on its feet.
Savannah State finally broke that nearly eight-minute scoreless streak with 4:47 left, part of a 9-0 effort from the Tigers over the next two minutes that made it 46-41 with less than three minutes left. NSU, though, hit 9-of-10 free throws down the stretch - after starting the game just 1-of-6 - to ice the win.
Williams had a big game for the Spartans, hitting 7-of-11 field goals and finishing with 20 points and three steals.
Senior Brandon Goode was the only other NSU player in double figures, as he tallied 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting with six rebounds and three blocks.
Jyles Smith led Savannah State (13-17) with 15 points, six boards and three blocks as well.
In the first half, NSU had a couple of putbacks to get going at the start of the game before the Tigers knocked down a pair of treys in less than a minute. Williams then countered with a pair of long jumpers to erase SSU's four-point lead. Goode had a putback layin at the 8:25 mark to cap a 12-2 run for the Spartans, giving NSU an 18-12 lead.
Junior Jamel Fuentes had a pair of successful drives to the lane to keep the lead at six with less than five minutes in the half. Deven Williams, though, knocked down a 3-pointer from the right corner with 6.8 seconds left to cut the Spartan lead to 24-23 heading into the break.
NSU held a 10-2 advantage in second chance points during the opening stanza.
Norfolk State also committed just eight turnovers on the night, compared to 14 for the Tigers, and held an 18-6 advantage in points off turnovers.
SSU only shot 5-of-10 from the free throw line. The Spartans sank 13-of-19, including 12-of-13 at the end.
NSU also connected on 21-of-47 from the floor (44.7 percent) while holding SSU to 19-of-49 shooting (38.8 percent).
Sophomore RaShid Gaston finished with seven points and a game-high 10 rebounds.