Norfolk State drops non-conference finale to Niagara

norfolk stateNiagara went up by eight at the half and made it stand up in an 83-75 win over the Norfolk State men’s basketball team on Saturday afternoon at the Gallagher Center.

NSU fell despite having four players in double figures and shooting 46 percent overall and 8-of-19 from 3-point range. The Purple Eagles sank 10 3-pointers for the game, eight in the first half, and were 14-of-18 from the free throw line in the second half to earn the win.

NSU only attempted six free throws all game, dropping to 5-10 after their last non-conference game of the season. Sophomore Mastadi Pitt led the way with 15 points in the second half and 18 altogether, shooting 7-of-10 overall and 3-of-4 from deep with four rebounds.

Junior Nic Thomas had 11 points before the break and 13 overall with four assists and four boards. Junior Steven Whitley (13 points, 6-of-7 field goals, five rebounds) and senior Jordan Butler (12 points, nine rebounds, two blocks) also reached double figures.

The Purple Eagles (7-5), however, led the entire second half, including by as much as 15 late in the game. They made 44 percent overall, 10-of-25 from 3-point range (40 percent) and led for nearly 38 minutes in the game.

The advantage for the Purple Eagles began right away. They scored the first nine points of the contest, and Marvin Prochet had 11 points early on to build a 14-6 lead. Five different players then scored for NSU during its 12-3 run that put the Spartans ahead 18-17 nine minutes in.

After Thomas’ 3-pointer a minute later put them up by two, the last of their two leads, the Purple Eagles put together a 16-4 run. Keleaf Tate capped it with a 3-pointer for a 35-25 advantage with a little less than five minutes remaining in the half. Senior Armani Branch and Thomas each had 3-pointers in the last few minutes, but Niagara went into the intermission up 43-35.

The Purple Eagles made 8-of-17 from deep and led despite NSU making 48 percent from the floor.

Pitt had a layup and a 3-pointer early in the second half to get the Spartans to within three. Niagara later countered with an 8-0 run to push the advantage to 11, 55-44, at the 13:41 mark. The Spartans then scored six of the next seven points, with buckets from three different players. But Niagara used an 8-2 run for a 12-point edge, 64-52, with 8:42 left.

The Purple Eagles pushed their advantage to 15 with a little less than five and a half minutes to go. Whitley scored eight points in a row for the Spartans as they got to within eight in the last few minutes of the game and seven in the last 20 seconds. Whitley and Pitt combined for 17 of the last 21 points of the game for NSU.

Prochet made 4-of-9 from 3-point range and 8-of-14 overall while finishing with 23 points, eight rebounds and three assists. James Towns made 11-of-13 from the line and had a final stat line of 15 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists.

Tate (14 points), Dominic Robb (11 points, five rebounds, three blocks) and Raheem Solomon (11 points, four assists) also chipped in.

NSU held the rebounding edge by five. The Spartans did finish with 15 turnovers to just eight for the Purple Eagles.

NSU begins MEAC play next Saturday at home against Delaware State at 6:30 p.m.

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