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NSU women tops Marshall to capture inaugural Hostilo Hoops Community Classic Championship

It was the team's fifth straight victory as they open the season with a 6-1 record for the first time since the 2001-02 campaign.
Credit: NSU Athletics

SAVANNAH, Ga. —  Larry Vickers has established a distinguished standard of excellence on the defensive side of the floor during his tenure as Norfolk State women's basketball head coach. The Spartans leaned on that identity Wednesday night, defeating Marshall 48-43 in a back-and forth defensive showdown.
Norfolk State's third victory in three days at Enmarket Arena, the performance crowned the Spartans champions of the inaugural Hostilo Hoops Community Classic. Kierra Wheeler, who led the Spartans with 12 points on Wednesday, earned tournament MVP honors.
The team's fifth straight victory, NSU opens the season with a 6-1 record for the first time since the 2001-02 campaign.
After amassing 70 points the previous night against UT Martin, Norfolk State struggled to find the same offensive rhythm against the Herd. Marshall held the Spartans to just 18 points in the first two quarters, their lowest scoring half of the season.
One Norfolk State player didn't need much time to warm up, though. A day after NSU's starters registered 68 of the team's 70 points vs. UT Martin, Crystal White provided a crucial offensive spark off the bench on Wednesday. White scored eight points in the first half, shooting 3-of-4 from the floor, while the rest of the team shot a combined 3-of-21.
While the Spartans needed to see the ball go through the hoop to get some confidence, their discipline on the other end kept them from falling far behind. NSU forced 12 Marshall turnovers in the first half, heading into the third quarter trailing just 22-18.
Norfolk State had come back from halftime deficits in two wins already this season, and that number would go to three on Wednesday. Niya Fields knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter, giving the Spartans their first lead since the first quarter.
Fields scored all of her points in the third period on Wednesday, converting an and-one opportunity on a fast break to push NSU ahead by two. She finished the night with nine points, four rebounds, and a team-high four steals.
Heading into the fourth quarter with the score knotted 35-35, the Spartans fell behind after two inside baskets by the Thundering Herd. Camille Downs hit a pair of free throws to get the Spartans back on track, before Wheeler scored back-to-back contested layups to tie the game at 41.
Wheeler gave Norfolk State the lead a few possessions later and Downs extended the cushion with another successful trip to the free throw line. Makoye Diawara made both of her freebies with under two minutes remaining as well, putting the Spartans ahead by six and wrapping up another impressive victory away from home.
As a team, Norfolk State shot 16-of-21 (76.2 percent) from the charity stripe, its fourth straight contest with a 70 percent or better rate at the line. Wednesday also marked NSU's fourth time this season holding an opponent to under 50 points, a feat the Spartans achieved on six occasions across the entire 2021-22 campaign.
Norfolk State returns to Echols Hall for its first home matchup in three weeks on Monday, Nov. 28, facing Campbell at 5:30 p.m.

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