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Big first half lifts Norfolk State women past Howard

The Spartans (15-3 overall, 3-0 MEAC) surrendered the first five points of the game, but responded with a 12-5 run to close out the first quarter.

NORFOLK, Va. — Kierra Wheeler scored 21 points to lead three Norfolk State University women's basketball players in double figures as the Spartans started slow, but used a big first-half run to pull away from Howard, 64-37, on Saturday in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) contest at Joseph G. Echols Memorial Hall.

The Spartans (15-3 overall, 3-0 MEAC) surrendered the first five points of the game, but responded with a 12-5 run to close out the opening quarter and outscored the Bison, 21-5, in the second period before taking a 33-15 advantage into the break.

Wheeler finished with a double-double, with a game-high 21 points, on 7-of-12 shooting, along with 13 rebounds, three steals and one blocked shot. Camille Downs added 11 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, eight boards, three assists and a pair of steals, while Makoye Diawara tallied 10 points, three boards and one steal.

Brooklyn Fort-Davis paced Howard (6-10, 2-1) with 10 points, two rebounds, one steal and one blocked shot.

Howard opened the game with a free throw by Fort-Davis and buckets by Aziah Hudson and Destiny Howell as the Bison led 5-0 just 4:10 into the game.

However, the Spartans responded after the media timeout with seven straight points, taking a 7-5 advantage after a Wheeler layup with 3:13 left in the period.

A 3-pointer by Howell gave Howard the brief 8-7 lead as Norfolk State closed the first period on a 5-2 run.

The Spartans' defense clamped down in the second period, holding Howard to just two field goals.

Norfolk State, which remained perfect this season at home, opened the second on a 13-0 run, capped by free throws by Wheeler and Downs, extending the lead to 25-10 with just over five minutes remaining in the half.

After a layup by Jenesis Perrin, the Spartans got a bucket by Wheeler and free throws by Diawara to push the margin to 29-12 with 1:57 left.

Howard closed the gap to 29-15 after a 3-pointer by Hudson, but Wheeler and Downs sank buckets down the stretch as the Spartans took a commanding 33-15 lead into the break.

The Bison cut the deficit to 12, 34-22, but that would be as close as they would get.

Norfolk State scored the next 11 points to push the lead to 43-22 after a Deja Franics jumper with 3:32 remaining in the third.

The Spartans took a 50-27 advantage into the final quarter and cruised to the 64-37 victory.

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