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Spartan women suffer road setback in first MEAC loss

Deja Francis scored 17 points as the Norfolk State University women's basketball team lose at Morgan State Monday night 57-46. It's the Spartans 1st conference loss.
Credit: NSU Athletics

BALTIMORE — Deja Francis scored 17 points as the Norfolk State University women's basketball team could not overcome a big third quarter by Morgan State as the Bears extended their home winning streak to 14 games with a 57-46 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) victory on Monday night at Hill Field House.

Norfolk State (16-4 overall, 4-1 MEAC) trailed, 23-22, at the break, but were outscored 24-11 in the third quarter. Morgan State (11-6, 4-0) recorded just three field goals and shot 21.4 percent in the final period as the Bears held off a late NSU rally.

Francis went 6-of-9 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the foul line to lead the Spartans with 17 points, five assists, two rebounds and two steals. Da'naijah Williams added 10 points, including four from the foul line, with three boards, three steals and one assist. Makoye Diawara recorded a team-high eight boards, along with four points, one assist and one steal.

Ja'Niah Henson led all scorers with 20 points, three steals, one rebound and one steal. Charlene Shepherd registered a double-double of 17 points, 17 boards, four assists, two steals and one blocked shot.

Norfolk State, which has not won at Morgan State since the 2018-19 season, raced out to a 6-3 lead after a Kierra Wheeler layup with 6:49 remaining in the opening quarter.

The Spartans, who shot 34.6 percent in the opening half, went the final 6:49 without a field goal as Morgan State used an 11-0 run to take a 14-6 lead into the second quarter.

A layup by Da'naijah Williams snapped a seven-minute plus cold spell for Norfolk State and cut the deficit to 14-8 with 9:23 left in the half.

Morgan State, which drained three triples in the first half, stretched the advantage to 18-8 after a fast break layup by Henson with 7:39 left, but Norfolk State slowly reeled the Bears back in as Francis, Mahoganie Williams and Camille Downs sank buckets, cutting the margin to 18-15 with 3:35 remaining.

MSU led 23-17 with 44 seconds left, but free throws by Williams and a layup by Francis closed the gap to 23-22 at the half.

The Bears opened the third period on a 15-3 run to stretch the lead to 38-25 through the first five minutes.

Fields scored on back-to-back layups, but Shepherd answered with a 3-pointer and a layup as Morgan State increased the lead to 43-29 with 2:38 remaining.

Morgan State outscored Norfolk State, 24-11, in the third period as the Bears took a commanding 47-33 advantage into the final quarter.

The Bears stretched the lead to 52-33 after a Maiya Bumbray 3-pointer with 8:37 left, but the Spartans responded with a 9-0 run over the next three minutes, closing the gap to 52-42 with 4:10 remaining.

Norfolk State got as close as nine points, 55-46, with 37 seconds left, but could not overcome the huge deficit.

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