South Carolina tops Norfolk State, 81-64

norfolk stateSouth Carolina had a pair of players score 18 points each, and the Gamecocks shot their way to an 81-64 win over the Norfolk State men’s basketball team on Tuesday night at Colonial Life Arena.

The Gamecocks made 52 percent from the floor, including nearly 63 percent in the second half alone, in a campus-round game of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament. Behind junior Nic Thomas, the Spartans did outscore the Gamecocks 15-6 to close out the game.

With less than seven minutes left in the game, Thomas sank five 3-pointers in less than five minutes of game action. He finished 5-of-7 from deep to lead the Spartans with 15 points. Freshman Joe Bryant Jr. added eight points, including a 3-point play and a 3-pointer late in the game as NSU got a 28-point USC lead down to as little as 16 near the end.

Thanks in part to Thomas’ late barrage, the Spartans shot 10-of-22 from 3-point range for the night, hitting nearly 46 percent from deep and 43 percent overall (20-of-47). They fell to 2-2 on the season.

The Gamecocks, however, connected on 11 shots from beyond the arc. Hassani Gravett (5-of-6) played a big part in that, as he finished with 18 points. A.J. Lawson made three 3-pointers and totaled 18 points, eight assists and six rebounds as well.

South Carolina (2-1) ended the night 28-of-54 for the game (51.9 percent), including 11-of-29 from 3-point land.

One game after failing to hit from long distance, the Gamecocks made three early on, including one off the backboard, for an 11-2 lead to start the game. Senior Alex Long had a couple of free throws and a tip-in as part of an early six points, and sophomore Mastadi Pitt made a couple of baskets to make it 25-17 with 4:55 to go in the half.

NSU was again within eight after a pair of free throws from sophomore Kyonze Chavis, but the Gamecocks later scored eight of the last 11 points of the half to go into the locker room up 37-23. Pitt led NSU with eight, but the Spartans hurt themselves with a 7-of-15 effort from the free throw line. They did make all seven attempts in the second half, however.

Pitt finished with eight points for the game along with Long, Bryant and senior Jordan Butler. Long also added six rebounds, although NSU lost the rebounding battle, 36-24.

The Gamecocks scored the first seven points of the second half to push the lead past 20. Senior Derrik Jamerson Jr. drained a 3-pointer from the left corner, and Butler scored the next eight points for the Spartans. The Gamecocks led by as much as 27 during that time and later by 28 before Thomas and Bryant combined to score the last 23 points of the game for the Spartans.

NSU will finish out the tournament at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut this weekend, playing Siena on Friday night at 8:30 p.m. followed by either Holy Cross or Stony Brook on either Saturday or Sunday.

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