ODU wins Battle of Norfolk, tops Norfolk State
The two Norfolk-based schools had not met in a decade and a half, but a sellout crowd of 8,472 got its money’s worth in a holiday matchup. NSU only led at the very beginning of the game but trailed by just single digits most of the first half and a good portion of the second.
The two teams traded runs later in the second half, but the Monarchs scored nine of the last 11 points of the game for the victory after the Spartans had gotten to within four with five minutes to go.
Aaron Bacote and Trey Freeman led the way for ODU (7-6), tallying 20 and 19 points, respectively. Bacote hit 6-of-11, while Freeman shot 7-of-19 to go with five rebounds and four assists.
NSU (5-9) got a pair of strong performances from sophomore Jordan Butler and senior Jeff Short. Each scored 14 points on the night, with Butler hitting 6-of-9 from the field with seven rebounds and three blocks. Short hit 5-of-11 overall and sank three 3-pointers to go with six rebounds and six assists.
ODU had just three turnovers for the entire game, and while NSU had below its average with 10, the Monarchs outscored the Spartans 15-2 in points off turnovers. Several of those points came late in the game to prevent a Spartan comeback.
Freeman got ODU going at the start of the game, scoring nine points within the first seven and a half minutes of the start. The Monarchs led 22-13 after a 3-point play by Zoran Talley at the 11:29 mark, but junior Brian Kelley responded with a trey on the other end of the floor from the right wing.
ODU took a 10-point lead at 30-20 with less than four minutes to go before the half on Nik Biberaj’s jumper near the foul line. Short hit a pair of 3-pointers for NSU, but the Monarchs led by as much as 11 in the first half. After freshman Zaynah Robinson drained the sixth 3-pointer of the half for NSU, Freeman sank two from the free throw line to send ODU into the break ahead 38-29.
Freeman had 13 in the first half, while NSU hit 6-of-11 from long range before the intermission. The Spartans finished 8-of-21 from beyond the arc for the game.
Butler had a pair of buckets as the Spartans scored eight of the game’s first 11 points of the second half to cut the deficit to four. Two minutes later, junior Jonathan Wade sank two free throws to get NSU to within two, 44-42. Up by three several minutes later, ODU began a 10-0 run to push the lead into double digits. The Spartans then countered with a 9-0 spurt, capped by a 3-point play by Butler and then a fastbreak layup by senior Charles Oliver with 4:54 on the clock.
That made it 59-55 in favor of the Monarchs, but ODU scored the next six points and was not threatened the rest of the way.
Oliver had eight points as NSU’s next-highest scorer. Zoran tallied 10 for ODU, and Brandan Stith led all players with 13 rebounds and four blocks.
NSU shot 20-of-54 (37.0 percent) for the game, compared to 24-of-57 for ODU (42.1 percent). The Monarchs also hit just 4-of-15 from long range and outscored the Spartans 32-20 in points in the paint and 14-8 in second-chance points.
The Spartans held the rebounding edge, 37-35.
NSU will play its last non-conference road game at Alabama on Saturday. Game time is 2 p.m., and the contest will be shown live on the SEC Network.