Press release courtesy of Norfolk State Athletics
NEWARK, N.J. – Rivalry games bring a chance for players to elevate their game in high pressure moments, and Norfolk State guard Joe Bryant Jr. has seized those opportunities this season. After willing the Spartans to victory in December’s Battle of the Bay against Hampton, Bryant led his team to a sweep of the Pirates on Saturday with a season-high 29 points.
Bryant was named Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic MVP for his performance in NSU’s 83-71 victory, helping the Spartans improve to 16-7 on the year. Heading into the second half trailing by one, Norfolk State outscored Hampton 48-35 in the final 20 minutes to secure a win in front of 13,451 fans at the Prudential Center.
Dana Tate Jr. wears the number 21 on the court, and he continues to show appreciation for the figure with his play as well. The forward’s 21 total on Saturday marked his third straight game scoring 21 points, recording the same amount in wins over North Carolina Central and South Carolina State.
The Spartans got off to a slow start, going nearly four and a half minutes without scoring a basket. Nyzaiah Chambers ended the draught with a putback dunk, the start of a Norfolk State run.
Tate made a pair of layups and Cahiem Brown tallied a 3-pointer and an and-one basket, as the Spartans took their first lead of the day. Brown finished with a team-best 12 points in the first half, attacking the rim consistently to earn eight free throw attempts.
The Pirates began to heat up from behind the arc, regaining control of the ballgame thanks to multiple 3-pointers by Marquis Goodwin. Goodwin knocked down seven 3-pointers on the night, accounting for all 21 of his points.
Hampton built its lead to seven late in the first half, the largest it would possess on Saturday. Bryant knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to quickly chip away at the deficit. Hampton stayed ahead for the rest of the period, but the lead at the break was trimmed to one when Tate buried a deep 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Norfolk State came out with intensity in the second half, as Bryant finished a tough layup in the lane before setting up Kris Bankston for a thunderous alley-oop dunk on the fast break.
Hampton continued to match the Spartans offensive output until about the 12-minute mark. Bryant knocked down a 3-pointer to give NSU a two-point lead, and Terrance Jones made a contested floater soon after.
Bryant and Tate hit back-to-back threes after Jones’ basket, forcing Hampton to call timeout trailing by eight points. The stoppage didn’t halt the run, though, as Tate made a layup with a foul just a couple of minutes later, expanding the advantage to 13.
The stellar stretch continued for Bryant, draining his final 3-pointer of the night in the final minutes. Bryant knocked down four free throws down the stretch, scoring 21 of his 29 points in the second half.
The win wrapped up Norfolk State’s nonconference slate for the regular season, going 5-0 against CAA opponents. NSU also went 4-0 in neutral-site events, winning all of its matchups at the ATL Has Something to Say HBCU Challenge, Boost Mobile HBCU Challenge, and Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic.
Norfolk State returns to action on Saturday, Feb. 11 at Maryland Eastern Shore. NSU defeated UMES in the foes’ first matchup of the season, the Hawks only loss in conference play thus far.