DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (NSUSpartans.com) - Despite almost 30 more attempts from the field, the Norfolk State men's basketball team could not find the bottom of the net in a 78-55 loss to Bethune-Cookman on Monday night at Moore Gymnasium.
The Spartans shot just 22 percent from the field, hitting 17-of-77 from the floor. They had 20 offensive rebounds and only half as much turnovers as B-CU (22-11). But the Wildcats shot nearly 50 percent to send NSU to its second straight loss.
The setback dropped the Spartans to 9-4 in the MEAC, one loss back of both North Carolina A&T and North Carolina Central for first place in the league.
Senior Jermaine Bishop led NSU (13-15 overall) with 18 points, and junior Devante Carter added 17 points and 11 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. The duo combined for 12 of the team's 17 field goals, although it came on a combined 12-of-41 shooting. The rest of the team shot 5-of-36.
They never trailed and their largest lead was the final margin, and the Wildcats improved to 9-5 in the MEAC and 15-13 overall. Isaiah Bailey led all players with 21 points on 6-of-12 shooting with eight rebounds while hitting all seven free throw attempts. Malik Maitland totaled 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting with seven assists and six rebounds.
NSU only trailed by 10 at the break and was tied with B-CU with less than 10 minutes to go in the half.
The Wildcats did lead 9-3 after less than two minutes of game time, but Carter had five points in less than a minute to keep NSU within one. He had another layup, again off a Wildcat turnover, to tie the score at 15-15 with 8:22 left in the first stanza.
But the Spartans were then held scoreless for almost seven minutes. The Wildcats scored 11 in a row during that time for a 26-15 edge. Bishop connected on a 3-pointer from the left wing late in the half, but Cletrell Pope's alley-oop layup with a few seconds left gave Bethune-Cookman a 30-20 lead at the break.
The Spartans shot just 8-of-40 (20 percent) in the first 20 minutes of play.
For the game, they shot 6-of-36 from deep, one attempt short of the school record.
Norfolk State made 13-of-17 from the free throw line in the second half. The deficit was only eight at 33-25 a minute and a half into the second period on Bishop's 3-pointer, and it was still eight exactly five minutes later on two free throws from freshman Tyrese Jenkins.
Treys from junior Kashaun Hicks and Bishop kept it a manageable game, but the Wildcats scored 10 of the next 13 points after the second of those 3's to push their lead to 18. Maitland got it to 20 at 64-44 with 4:23 to go.
Bishop scored five in a row on another 3-pointer and a layup off a turnover on the ensuing possession, but that last bucket with 4:10 to go was the last field goal for the Spartans. They missed their last eight shots of the game.
For B-CU, Pope added 11 points, 12 rebounds and three of the team's nine blocks. He led the Wildcats to a 50-40 edge on the glass despite NSU's 20 offensive boards.
They made 24-of-49 from the field as well as 24-of-31 from the free throw line.
NSU will return home to host Howard on Saturday for Senior Day at 6:30 p.m.