NORFOLK, Va. – The Norfolk State men's basketball team held Clarion in check in the second half on the way to a 74-46 win over the Golden Eagles on Saturday night at Joseph Echols Hall. The Spartans limited Clarion to just 19 field goal attempts and 19 total points in the second half alone. What had been a five-point lead at the break turned into a 28-point win by the end. The Spartans also overcame a slow first half to shoot 61 percent from the floor in the second period. Junior Nic Thomas tallied 19 points on 6-of-12 from the floor, 3-of-6 from deep, to lead all scorers. NSU (2-1) also forced 25 turnovers, leading to a 25-6 advantage in points off turnovers. That came two days after the Spartans forced Mid-Atlantic Christian into 24 giveaways.
The Spartans began to turn it on several minutes into the second half. After Clarion began the second period with a three, NSU scored the next seven points for a nine-point edge. It was part of a larger 14-4 run that extended the advantage to 12, 46-34. Thomas and senior Derrik Jamerson Jr. each had treys to spark the offensive surge.
A little later up by nine, NSU scored nine in a row to push ahead by 18 halfway through the period. Thomas had 11 points in the second half, including another 3-pointer at the 2:53 mark for a 29-point advantage, 71-42. A few minutes earlier, junior Steven Whitleycompleted a 3-point play, and senior Armani Branch nailed one from beyond the arc to help get the advantage past 20. They led by as much as 30 late in the contest. Whitley totaled 13 points with three assists, and senior Jordan Butler also reached double figures with 10 points and three blocks.
The first half, however, was a different story. It was an early 12-5 lead for the Spartans after Butler drove in for a dunk five and a half minutes in. The Golden Eagles countered with a 9-2 run over the next three minutes to tie the game at 14-14 at the 11:21 mark. After a three-minute scoring drought by both teams, sophomore Mastadi Pitt got NSU going with a 3-pointer from a few feet out from the top of the key.
Free throws by Butler and Thomas pushed the Spartan lead to six with five minutes left in the half, but Clarion kept nipping at their heels. The Golden Eagles got to within two at 25-23 on a 3-pointer by RJ Laugand at the 3:26 mark. Whitley converted a 3-point play for a seven-point lead with 34 seconds to go, and NSU went into the half up 32-27.
NSU shot 36 percent in the first half but 46 percent overall (25-of-54) thanks to its strong second half. Clarion connected on 16-of-44 overall, including just 4-of-15 from deep. Lawrence Lemon made 5-of-8 overall for 13 points to lead the Golden Eagles. Stevan Rodriguez added eight points and nine rebounds as well. The Spartans outscored them 36-20 in points in the paint. Pitt added nine points with three assists.