WASHINGTON, D.C. (NSUSpartans.com) – Joe Bryant Jr. scored 24 points and Norfolk State made the key plays late to come away with a 77-74 win at Howard on Saturday, improving to 2-0 in MEAC play in the process.
Dana Tate Jr. scored five points in the final two minutes and both Bryant and Tyrese Jenkins went 2-of-2 from the line to help the Spartans (11-4, 2-0 MEAC) hold on.
Howard (6-7, 0-1) led 69-68 after two Steve Settle free throws with 2:09 remaining. But just more than 30 seconds later, Tate converted a driving layup and hit the free throw to complete a three-point play, giving the Spartans a 71-69 edge.
Howard missed a shot at the other end and then Bryant drew a charge to give the Spartans the ball back. Tate canned two foul shots with 34 seconds left to push the edge to four.
Eugene Hawkins made two free throws and Bryant answered with two of his own. Hawkins then completed a three-point play to cut the Bison deficit to one, and Jenkins made two free throws with seven seconds left to make it 77-74 in the Spartans’ favor.
The Bison had two shots to tie in the final seconds. Kris Bankston blocked a 3-pointer by Kyle Foster, and after a timeout, Foster’s contested trey at the buzzer fell short as the Spartans held on.
Howard led 12-6 four minutes into the game thanks in part to two 3-pointers by Foster, who made six shots from behind the arc in the game. That matched the largest lead for either team in a fast-paced first half.
NSU used a 7-0 run late in the opening half to regain the lead. Bankston converted a three-point play and both Bryant and Jalen Hawkins had field goals in the mini spurt. Hawkins’ transition 3-pointer just before the first half buzzer gave NSU its biggest lead of the half, at 38-32 entering the locker room.
The second half featured runs by both teams. Howard’s 14-4 spurt, capped by a triple by Steve Settle, gave the Bison their first lead of the period at 46-44. The Spartans responded with a 14-2 run that included seven points from Bryant and five from Hawkins to take their biggest lead of the game, 62-52, with 10:10 left.
The Bison slowly crawled back into it, eventually taking the sort-lived edge on Settle’s free throws.
Bryant recorded his second 20-point game of the week, hitting 6-of-14 from the floor and 11-of-12 from the foul line one game after scoring a season-high 29 against Delaware State. He added five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Hawkins chipped in with 15 points and four steals, Jenkins posted 13 points and eight boards, and Bankston had 11 points and six rebounds.
NSU shot 42 percent from the floor and a sterling 92 percent (24-of-26) from the free-throw line. NSU also outrebounded the Bison 36-33 and forced 17 Howard turnovers, 11 coming via steals.
Foster scored 22 points to lead Howard.
The Spartans remain on the road for a 4 p.m. game Monday at Maryland Eastern Shore.