DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Despite almost 30 more attempts from the field, the Norfolk State men's basketball team could not find the bottom of the net in a 78-55 loss to Bethune-Cookman on Monday night at Moore Gymnasium.
The Spartans shot just 22 percent from the field, hitting 17-of-77 from the floor. They had 20 offensive rebounds and only half as much turnovers as B-CU (22-11). But the Wildcats shot nearly 50 percent overall to send NSU to its second straight loss. The setback dropped the Spartans to 9-4 in the MEAC, one loss back of both North Carolina A&T (11-3) and North Carolina Central (10-3) for first place in the league.
Senior Jermaine Bishop led NSU (13-15 overall) with 18 points, and junior Devante Carter added 17 points and 11 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. The duo combined for 12 of the team's 17 field goals, although it came on a combined 12-of-41 shooting. The rest of the team shot 5-of-36.
The Wildcats never trailed and their largest lead was the final margin, and they improved to 9-5 in the MEAC and 15-13 overall. Isaiah Bailey led all players with 21 points on 6-of-12 shooting with eight rebounds while hitting all seven free throw attempts. Malik Maitland totaled 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting with seven assists and six rebounds. NSU, however, only trailed by 10 at the break and was tied with B-CU with less than 10 minutes to go in the first half.
The Wildcats did lead 9-3 after less than two minutes of game time, but Carter had five points in less than a minute to keep NSU within one. He had another layup, again off a Wildcat turnover, to tie the score at 15-15 with 8:22 left in the first stanza.
But the Spartans were then held scoreless for almost seven minutes. The Wildcats scored 11 in a row during that time for a 26-15 edge. Bishop connected on a 3-pointer from the left wing late in the half, but Cletrell Pope's alley-oop layup with a few seconds left gave Bethune-Cookman a 30-20 lead at the break. The Spartans shot just 8-of-40 (20 percent) in the first 20 minutes of play. For the game, they also shot 6-of-36 from beyond the arc, one attempt short of the school record.
Norfolk State made 13-of-17 from the free throw line in the second half. The deficit was only eight at 33-25 a minute and a half into the second period on Bishop's 3-pointer, and it was still eight exactly five minutes later on two free throws from freshman Tyrese Jenkins.
Treys from junior Kashaun Hicks and Bishop kept it a manageable game, but the Wildcats scored 10 of the next 13 points after the second of those 3's to push their lead to 18. Maitland got it to 20 a little later at 64-44 with 4:23 to go.
Bishop scored five in a row on a 3-pointer and a layup off a turnover on the ensuing possession, but that last bucket with 4:10 to go was the last field goal for the Spartans. They missed their last eight shots of the game.
For B-CU, Pope added 11 points, 12 rebounds and three of the team's nine blocks. He led the Wildcats to a 50-40 edge on the glass despite NSU's 20 offensive boards. They made 24-of-49 from the field as well as 24-of-31 from the free throw line. NSU will return home to host Howard on Saturday for Senior Day at 6:30 p.m.