PRINCESS ANNE, Md. – Joe Bryant Jr.continued his recent tear with 25 points, Jalen Hawkins scored a season-high 20 and the Norfolk State defense carried the day in the second half as the Spartans defeated Maryland Eastern Shore 72-58 on Monday afternoon at Hytche Athletic Center.
Bryant topped the 20-point mark for the third straight game to help the Spartans (12-4, 3-0 MEAC) remain unbeaten in the conference and beat the Hawks for the seventh straight time. Kris Bankston chipped in 14 points while Cahiem Brown posted 11 points, a career-high 12 rebounds and six assists for NSU.
The Hawks (5-7, 0-1), playing their first game since Dec. 20, had the hot hand early against the Spartans, who were playing their third game in six days. MDES hit 11 of its first 18 field goals and four of its first eight 3-pointers. Dom London hit two treys in a 13-0 Hawk spurt that gave MDES a 23-15 lead.
The Hawks held their largest lead at 32-20 after a dunk by Da’Shawn Phillip before NSU rallied. The Spartans closed the half with a 14-2 run that included five points by Brown to knot the score at 34-all at the break.
The second half belonged to NSU. Bryant scored seven points in a 9-0 run that helped NSU take control, holding a 45-37 lead with 14:01 left to play.
MDES got as close as three thereafter, at 51-48. The Spartans then all but put the game away with a 12-3 run. Bryant had 10 points in that span, including a 3-pointer and hitting all three free throws after he was fouled on another 3-point attempt to give NSU a 63-51 edge with 5:31 remaining.
Bryant scored 19 points after halftime. He was 7-of-15 from the floor and shot 9-of-10 from the charity stripe on the night. Bankston hit 6-of-8 from the floor and also had seven rebounds. The quartet of Bryant, Hawkins, Brown and Bankston scored all but two of NSU’s points.
The Spartans shot 49 percent from the floor in the game. NSU held the Hawks to 6-of-29 shooting (21 percent) and 1-of-14 shooting from long distance in the final 20 minutes. MDES made 33 percent from the floor for the game.
Kevon Voyles scored 12 points for the Hawks.
Norfolk State returns home for its next two games, starting with a 6 p.m. contest with Coppin State on Saturday at Echols Hall. The game has been designated a Green Out.