PRINCESS ANNE, Md. (NSU ATHLETICS) – Norfolk State continued to climb up the MEAC standings on Saturday, defeating Maryland Eastern Shore 76-73 at Hytche Athletic Center.
The Spartans (17-7, 6-2 MEAC) completed a regular season sweep of UMES (14-9, 6-2) with the win, delivering the Hawks both of their conference losses.
Joe Bryant Jr. led the way with 25 points, his third time scoring 20 or more points in the team’s last four games. Dana Tate Jr. added an efficient 15 points and nine rebounds, shooting 5-of-6 (83.3 percent) from the floor
Terrance Jones set the tone early, scoring five of the Spartans’ first seven points. The sophomore guard made his presence felt all over the floor in the first half, recording a steal to set up a Bryant score in the final minute as well.
A Tyrese Jenkins layup gave the Spartans their first advantage of the night, but neither team could gather control of the game for any sort of significant stretch. The lead changed hands 11 times in the first half, as both squads desperately battled for an edge.
The Hawks led by as much as four, but back-to-back scores by Tate, including one from behind the arc, made that deficit disappear. Daryl Anderson and Bryant both knocked down go-ahead 3-pointers as well in the next few minutes.
With the Spartans ahead 32-31, Cahiem Brown got to the rim and drew a foul, making both attempts at the line. The points started a 9-0 Spartan run, giving Norfolk State the game’s only double-digit lead of the night.
Norfolk State entered the second half with a 41-32 advantage, but Maryland Eastern Shore scored the first five points of the period. The Hawks began to heat up from deep, pulling within one when Da’Shawn Phillip drilled a pull-up jumper from the top of the key.
Phillip sank another three-ball a few minutes later to tie the score at 54, this time from miles behind the 3-point line. The UMES senior finished with 20 points, 17 of them coming in the second half.
Phillip valiantly kept the Hawks in the game, but the Spartans had their own closer prepared for the moment. After UMES went ahead by three with under eight minutes to play, Bryant knocked down a 3-pointer to knot the score at 59.
UMES responded with an inside bucket on the other end, but Tate came right back with a turnaround jump shot. Nyzaiah Chambers extinguished the Hawks’ last lead of the night, rising for a two-handed slam with 4:49 on the clock.
Bryant took advantage of a Cahiem Brown steal, converting a layup on the fast break to push NSU ahead in the final minutes, before the reigning MEAC Player of the Year sank a huge 3-pointer extending the lead to five.
The Spartans never surrendered control the rest of the night, although some late UMES 3-pointers made things interesting. The Hawks pulled down a rebound off a missed Norfolk State free throw in the final seconds, with one last chance trailing by three.
Donchevell Nugent got a shot off from the corner as the buzzer sounded, but Kris Bankston’s suffocating contest ensured the heave wouldn’t reach the bottom of the net.
Norfolk State will look for a fifth straight win on Monday, facing Delaware State for Military Appreciation Day. Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m.