Norfolk State extends win streak to nine

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NORFOLK, Va. – Senior Jonathan Wade secured his fourth straight double-double, leading the Norfolk State men's basketball team to its ninth straight win on Wednesday night at Joseph Echols Hall, 81-70 over South Carolina State.

Norfolk State men's basketball

Norfolk State men's basketball

In a game postponed from early January due to weather, the Spartans only trailed at the very beginning of the contest. They held off the Bulldogs after S.C. State had gotten to within three late in the game, and in the process NSU improved its MEAC record to 10-2. Wade played a big part in that, tallying 27 points and 11 rebounds.

He shot 7-of-12 from the field and 11-of-12 from the free throw line. Both teams shot relatively even from the floor. All things being equal, the biggest difference came at the free throw line. NSU used a 32-of-40 effort, 14 more attempts than S.C. State, to run its overall record to 13-13.

The Spartans maintained their hold on second place in the league. In addition to Wade, junior Zaynah Robinson scored 14 points, while junior Kyle Williams added 13 points off the bench.

S.C. State (8-18, 5-8 MEAC) only gained a major advantage in fastbreak points, outscoring NSU 15-0.

The Bulldogs only led at the beginning of the game when they scored seven of the first nine points. After that, the Spartans led the rest of the first half and then the entire second. It started with a 14-2 run that proceeded the quick start by the Bulldogs. NSU led by seven at that point, and it stretched the lead to double-digits after junior Jordan Butler made two free throws at the 8:35 mark.

Norfolk State men's basketball

Norfolk State men's basketball

The Bulldogs slowly chipped away, eventually cutting the deficit to three at 34-31 with a little more than two minutes to go. Edward Stephens, who led SCSU with 20 points on the night, hit his second 3-pointer with the half winding down to slice the Spartan lead to two. Robinson, however, knocked down his own trey with 33 seconds in the half to give the Spartans a 39-34 lead at the break.

Wade, who had 15 at that point, tallied nine more points within the first four and a half minutes of the second period. That included three free throws at the 15:24 mark to make it 50-41 in favor of NSU. After senior Kerwin Okoro drained a 3-pointer a minute later, the Bulldogs scored six straight to get to within four, still with 12 and a half minutes left. Then the Spartans scored 10 straight to get back to a double-digit lead.

Junior Bryan Gellineau completed a three-point play, and Butler made a pair from the line with 9:41 to go to cap that run. The Bulldogs had one last outburst, pulling to within three thanks to an 11-2 run over a minute and a half.

SCSU trailed by just three at that point, 69-66, with 5:39 to go. The Bulldogs had two attempts from beyond the arc to tie it up. But after they missed both, the Spartans scored the next 11 points to put the game out of reach.

NSU shot 22-of-53 from the floor (41.5 percent), slightly better than SCSU's 23-of-57 effort (40.4 percent). Both teams shot less than 30 percent from beyond the arc while combining for just nine treys.

Aside from Stephens, who made 7-of-14 overall and 4-of-9 from 3-point range, S.C. State also got double-figure scoring from Eric Eaves (14) and Greg Mortimer (13). Ian Kinard grabbed a team-high seven rebounds as the teams finished even on the glass, 36-36.

NSU will head to the state of Florida for a pair of games this weekend. Up first, the Spartans play at Florida A&M on Saturday at 6 p.m.