NORFOLK, Va. - Senior Jonathan Wade scored 31 points, the second-highest output of his career, to give the Norfolk State men’s basketball team a 73-66 win over Bethune-Cookman on Saturday evening at Joseph Echols Hall.
He scored nearly half of his team’s total, as NSU exploded in the second half for the second game in a row. Down by two at the break, NSU outscored the Wildcats 46-37 in the second period, shooting 68 percent after the intermission.
The Spartans overcame that halftime deficit within the first four minutes of the second half, and NSU never trailed the rest of the way. They also never led by more than nine, and that only came after the Wildcats had made one last run.
Junior Zaynah Robinson found sophomore Alex Long all alone under the basket for an easy slam and an eight-point edge with 10 minutes left in the game. But on the other end, Brandon Tabb and Quinton Forrest each hit 3-pointers that sparked the late Wildcat push.
They got to the free throw line several times to whittle the Spartan lead down to one. Bethune-Cookman then tied the score at 61-all with 4:09 left after a technical foul on NSU. The Spartans, however, scored the next nine points, all from Wade and junior Jordan Butler, to surge ahead by a 70-61 margin and ignite the crowd.
Forrest then knocked down another 3-pointer, and Reggie Baker made a pair from the line to get the Wildcats to within four. Long, however, made 3-of-4 from the line late in the game to help seal the win.
NSU shot just 32 percent in the first half but 68.2 in the second on 15-of-22 shooting. The Spartans also made 5-of-8 from long range after going just 2-of-16 in the first half.
NSU shot just 32 percent in the first half but 68.2 in the second on 15-of-22 shooting. The Spartans also made 5-of-8 from long range.
Long finished with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting and eight rebounds. Wade shot 11-of-14 from the field, including 3-of-6 from the 3-point line, to go along with six rebounds, three steals and two assists. He fell short of his career high of 34 points set earlier this season against Elizabeth City State.
Butler added eight points and nine rebounds, helping NSU finish with a dominating 45-28 edge on the glass. The Spartans also outscored the Wildcats 14-2 in second-chance points after limiting B-CU to just three offensive rebounds.
Tabb led B-CU with 20 points and four rebounds. Diamante Lewis tallied 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting with 13 assists and four rebounds. The Wildcats fell to 4-16 overall and 1-6 in the MEAC.
The Spartans scored 10 straight early in the game to take a five-point lead, with Robinson scoring half of those to get the offense going. Wade drained a 3-pointer and Long then added a layup to push the lead to six at 21-15 with a little less than nine minutes to go in the half.
The Wildcats hung around, eventually tying the score at 23-23 with five and a half minutes left after a 3-pointer from Josue Salaam and a layup from Lewis. The Wildcats later scored six straight for their first lead since the beginning of the game, but Wade’s last-second bucket made it 29-27 in favor of B-CU going into the intermission.
Norfolk State had 12 more attempts in the first period than the Wildcats, who in turn had seven more shots from the free throw line but made just 4-of-12.
Wade scored six points early in the second half to put the Spartans back in the lead. NSU, which was just 2-of-16 in the first half from deep, got 3-pointers from senior Kerwin Okoro, Robinson and Wade in a three-minute span to jump ahead 45-38 with 13:18 on the clock.
A little later, NSU pushed the lead to eight before each team made their late runs.
Robinson scored nine points with seven assists and four rebounds.
For the game, the Spartans shot 27-of-59 (45.8 percent) from the floor. They held the Wildcats to 23-of-54 shooting (42.6 percent) and 8-of-22 from deep. Neither team shot well from the foul line, as they combined to make just 24-of-47, or slightly better than 50 percent.
NSU will stay home to host North Carolina A&T on Monday night beginning at 8 p.m.