NORFOLK, Va. - Five players scored in double figures as the Norfolk State men's basketball team upset first place Savannah State by an 85-77 score on Saturday evening at Joseph Echols Hall.
The Spartans held the Tigers to just 31 percent shooting for the night in dropping SSU to 10-2 in the league and 13-14 overall. With the rest of the teams ahead of NSU in the standings also winning on Saturday, the Spartans maintained their position in the league at 8-4. They also improved to 10-17 overall.
One game after they tied the school record for 3-pointers, the Spartans struggled from beyond the arc. Instead, they outscored the Tigers 46-18 in points in the paint while holding a 57-36 edge on the glass.
Junior Derrik Jamerson Jr. led the Spartans with 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting. He also knocked down a pair of 3-pointers late in the game, his only treys on the night, to seal the victory. NSU outscored Savannah State by 20 in the second half after facing a double-digit deficit at the break.
In addition to Jamerson, senior Bryan Gellineau finished with a career-high 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting. For the second time this year, sophomore Steven Whitley nearly had a triple double after tallying 15 points, a career-high 10 assists and eight rebounds.
Savannah State made a run at the end of the first half to take a 12-point lead into the break. But a few minutes into the second half, Whitley completed a 3-point play to start a 15-2 run for the Spartans. He finished it four minutes later with another 3-point play to give them a 57-53 lead. The advantage stretched to five before the Tigers scored seven straight to go back into the lead.
The Spartans, however, scored the next eight points, with Whitley's trey pushing the lead to 69-63 with a little less than six minutes to go. Jamerson's layup completed what ended up being a larger 12-3 run to make it a 73-66 ballgame.
A 3-pointer and two free throws from SSU's Alante Fenner cut the Spartan lead to two. Jamerson, however, hit a pair of 3-pointers less than a minute apart to seal the win.
The Spartans shot 53 percent in the second half, part of a 45-percent shooting night. They made all four of their 3-pointers in the second half after going 0-of-10 in the first period, 4-of-21 overall.
Norfolk State raced out to a 13-5 lead to start the game, with Gellineau scoring the first seven points of the game for the Spartans. Savannah State then started to heat up from deep, pushing ahead on Dexter McClanahan's trey at the 10:14 mark.
He drained another 3-pointer with less than eight minutes left for a four-point edge, 25-21. Senior Stavian Allen knocked down a pair of jumpers with less than four minutes to go in the half to give the Spartans the lead back. But the Tigers closed the opening period on a 15-2 run to go into the locker room up 41-29.
Junior Alex Long completed a double-double with 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting with 10 rebounds and three steals. Allen nearly did the same with 10 points and eight boards. Senior Preston Bungei tied his career high with 12 rebounds as well.
McClanahan totaled 19 points, and Fenner added 18 points. Savannah State shot 23-of-74 overall (31.1 percent), including 12-of-46 from deep. The Spartans countered by hitting 33-of-73 (45.2 percent).
The teams combined for 43 turnovers.
The Spartans will close out the home weekend when they host South Carolina State on Monday at 8 p.m.?