Taylor’s big night lifts Evansville past Norfolk State, 85-66

norfolk stateRyan Taylor scored 38 points to carry Evansville to an 85-66 win over the Norfolk State men’s basketball team on Wednesday night at the Ford Center.

Taylor shot 13-of-21 from the floor and 6-of-10 from long range for a career night. Evansville led by double digits the last five minutes of the first half and nearly all of the second until NSU made a late run. The Purple Aces, however, scored 12 straight after that point to put the game away.

NSU got a solid effort from junior Zaynah Robinson, who tallied a career-high 25 points. He made 8-of-13 overall including 6-of-10 from 3-point range, with three assists and two steals. NSU connected on 11-of-29 from beyond the arc for the night.

Jaylon Brown chipped in with 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting for the Aces with five rebounds and five assists. Christian Benzon grabbed a game-high nine rebounds to help Evansville to a 38-24 edge on the boards. The Aces also held NSU to just four offensive rebounds.

The Aces were also helped by a 27-of-39 effort from the free throw line, 22 more attempts than the Spartans, who were whistled for 29 fouls. Evansville also hit 54 percent from the floor on 26-of-48 shooting.

The Purple Aces scored the first nine points of the game, and Taylor had 13 for them in the first five and a half minutes of the contest. He later hit a trey from the left corner to extend Evansville’s lead to 24-13 at the 12:30 mark.

NSU got to within six at 24-18 after junior Stavian Allen buried a 3-pointer from the left wing at 10:24. The Aces, though, outscored the Spartans 14-6 over the last five and a half minutes of the period to take a 44-27 lead into the intermission. Juniors Kyle Williams and Alex Brown each hit treys to account for NSU’s six points during that time.

Evansville shot 57 percent in the first half and was +12 on the glass. Taylor had 20 points, and Brown totaled 10 in the first half to pace the Aces.

Robinson sank a pair from long range early in the second half, although Evansville went up by as much as 19 on three different occasions. In fact, the Aces’ advantage stayed between 16 and 19 points for more than an eight-minute span until Robinson made the second of two straight 3-pointers at the 9:04 mark. Just 40 seconds later, Allen made a trey from the right wing to cut the deficit to just 11, 65-54.

Senior Jonathan Wade then scored seven straight for the Spartans, which set up another trey from Robinson that sliced the Evansville advantage down to single digits for the first time in the half. That 3-pointer made it 73-64 with just 4:35 left. The Aces, though, scored the next 12 points in the game, keeping NSU scoreless for a little more than four minutes, to secure the win.

Norfolk State shot 22-of-53 for the game (41.5 percent), including 46 percent in the second half. Allen and Wade each scored 11, with Allen adding a team-high six rebounds and two blocks.

The Aces were +4 in the turnover department and used that slight edge to outscore NSU 19-4 in points off turnovers.

NSU will play its last non-conference home game of the season next Monday when the Spartans host Eastern Kentucky at Joseph Echols Hall beginning at 7 p.m.

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