NORFOLK- Norfolk State men's basketball hit lights out from 3-point range in the first half and then survived Navy's second half comeback in a 74-68 victory over the Midshipmen Saturday afternoon at Joseph Echols Hall in NSU's last non-conference game of the year.
The Spartans shot 9-of-15 from beyond the arc in the first stanza and seemed to be well on their way to breaking the school record for treys in building a 22-point lead at the half. NSU went up by as much as 26 in the second half and still led by more than 20 with 10 minutes left, but then it was Navy's turn to catch fire from 3.
Navy hit 8-of-18 in the second half from 3-point range, including 8-of-15 in the last nine and a half minutes of the game. The Midshipmen's diminutive 5-7 guard, Kevin Alter, hit six of those treys for 18 points, easily surpassing his previous career high of six.
The Midshipmen (6-10) outscored the Spartans 25-10 over a nearly nine-minute span, cutting the deficit to eight with just under a minute left. Alter's last 3-pointer got the Midshipmen to within five, but with only eight seconds left Navy ran out of time and NSU (7-10) broke a five-game losing streak.
Junior Pendarvis Williams scored a game-high 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting with four rebounds and three steals, while junior Malcolm Hawkins and senior Rob Johnson chipped in with 17 and 15, respectively. NSU shot 24-of-44 for the game (54.5 percent), including better than 62 percent in the first half alone.
NSU was on fire to start the game, as five points from junior Brandon Goode and two 3-pointers each from Johnson and Williams put the Spartans up big early, 17-4. Navy called timeout at the 13:02 mark, and then the Midshipmen used a 7-2 run to get back into the game with a little more than 10 minutes in the half.
The Spartans immediately responded, pushing the lead to 19, 33-14, thanks to a 14-3 run that lasted almost five minutes. Hawkins sank a trio of 3-pointers during that stretch. Williams, meanwhile, hit two more treys during the last stretch of the half, including one with about eight seconds left on the clock.
NSU took a 44-22 lead into intermission.
Navy outscored the Spartans by 16 in the second half, hitting 17-of-36 (47.2 percent) in the second part of the game and 41.3 percent overall on 26-of-63 shooting. The Midshipmen took 19 more shots in the contest thanks to a big discrepancy in free throw shooting.
NSU made 17-of-26 for the game from the charity stripe, compared to just 4-of-6 for Navy.
The Spartans led by at least 20 throughout the first 10 minutes of the second half, twice pushing the lead up to 26. The latter time came at the 12:05 mark when senior A.J. Rogers buried a short jumper in the lane. Up 58-35 at the 9:32 mark after two free throws from junior Jamel Fuentes, NSU only attempted six shots over the next nine minutes as the Midshipmen methodically cut into the Spartan lead.
NSU went 6-of-8 from the charity stripe in the last 1:13 of the game to help hold off Navy.
Fuentes and junior Marese Phelps each added six assists, while Goode and Johnson each had three of NSU's season-high 10 blocks on the night. The Spartans missed all seven of their 3-pointers in the second half.
Navy, on the other hand, made 12-of-30 from 3-point range for the game. Tilman Dunbar and Worth Smith added 12 and 11 points, respectively, and Smith also had a game-high nine boards.
Both teams had 29 rebounds on the day.