NORFOLK, Va. (NSUSpartans.com) – The Norfolk State men’s basketball team overcame a sluggish first half to top North Carolina Wesleyan 80-58 on Wednesday afternoon in a non-conference game at Joseph Echols Hall.
Senior J.J. Matthews finished with 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting with eight rebounds as NSU reached the half-century mark in the second half. The Spartans turned a seven-point halftime lead into an advantage that reached as much as 27 late in the game.
NSU forced a season-high 25 turnovers and shot 50 percent for the game, nearly 56 percent in the second period when it scored 51 points. Along with Matthews, senior Kyonze Chavis also reached double figures with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Junior Jalen Hawkins added 10 points.
“We did not come out with great energy in the first half, but we played a lot better in the second,” said NSU head coach Robert Jones. “To score 50 points is great, but we will need that second-half energy for the entire game on Saturday against Delaware State.”
Both teams easily surpassed their first-half production. NSU got going after halftime, scoring the first nine points as part of an 18-5 run at the start of the second half. Matthews and Chavis led the team during that time, and a 3-pointer from senior Mustafa Lawrence made it 47-27 six and a half minutes in.
Sophomore Daryl Anderson hit a 3-pointer to stretch the lead to 24, and the Spartans weathered a quick 9-2 run by the Battling Bishops. N.C. Wesleyan shrank the deficit down to 16, but junior Joe Bryant capped an 11-0 run late in the game with the team’s seventh 3-pointer of the night for a 27-point edge.
The Spartans led by as much as five in the first part of the contest, including at 16-11 following a layup from Anderson and an easy dunk from junior Chris Ford. N.C. Wesleyan eventually tied the game up following a couple of free throws and a make from long range.
Anderson and sophomore Tyrese Jenkins each hit 3-pointers as NSU led by as much as nine late in the first half. The Spartans went into the break ahead by a 29-22 margin.
NSU held the Battling Bishops to 36 percent shooting in the first half. They made 50 percent in the second, albeit on just 24 field goal attempts.
The Spartans held a 21-8 edge in fastbreak points while making 19-of-25 from the free throw line.
Damon McDowell (12 points) and Marquis Eskew (10 points) paced N.C. Wesleyan.
Norfolk State will head to Delaware State this weekend for its next MEAC series.