NORFOLK (NSU Athletics) The Norfolk State men’s basketball team gave a crowd of 4,155 a show on Saturday, defeating Morgan State 72-50 at Echols Hall. The Spartans improved to 19-7, 8-2 in the MEAC.

Kris Bankston scored a career high 24 points in a 77-71 loss at Morgan State on Jan. 23, and he brought his A-game once again in the rematch. The graduate senior dropped 23 points and pulled in nine rebounds on Saturday, racking up five blocks as well.

Joe Bryant Jr. (13) and Cahiem Brown (12) also scored in double figures for the Spartans,  with all of the former’s points coming in the second half. Brown showed off his playmaking ability while stifling the Bears’ facilitators, recording four assists and four steals.

Morgan State knocked down 12 3-pointers in the first meeting of the season, but the Spartans clamped down defensively this time around. NSU suffocated the Bears guards on the perimeter all night, allowing just three 3-pointers on 14 attempts (21.4 percent).

Morgan State took a 6-5 lead early in the first period when Isaiah Burke hit a mid-range jumper, but Terrance Jones responded with a step-back 3-pointer on the other end to turn the tide in NSU’s favor. The Bears wouldn’t regain the lead for the rest of the night.

Back-to-back Bankston dunks got the Spartans rolling, before Tate got a hook shot to fall in the paint. Bankston brought his first half scoring tally to 14 with a dunk in the final minute.

Brown drilled a 3-pointer in the half’s closing second, pushing NSU ahead 35-20 at the break.

Nyzaiah Chambers kept the momentum going in the second period with a quick two-handed slam. The Chesapeake, Va. native finished the night with six points and six rebounds, shooting 3-of-4 from the floor.

The Bears began to mount a comeback as the second half moved along, eventually cutting the deficit to five with 12 minutes remaining. Bankston responded with an and-one on the other end, kickstarting a 15-3 Norfolk State run that would put the game away.

Head coach Robert Jones turned to his bench in the final minutes, leading to Yoro Sidibe scoring on a crafty reverse layup with just over 60 seconds to go.

The win moved Norfolk State into sole second place in the MEAC standings, one game behind Howard, after Maryland Eastern Shore’s 78-62 loss at South Carolina State on Saturday.

Norfolk State returns to Echols Hall one last time on Monday, Feb. 20, for Senior Night against Coppin State. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.