|No. 2 Norfolk State Advances to Semis with 68-54 Win||< All News|
|Wednesday, March 11, 2015|
NORFOLK, Va. --- Jeff Short scored a game-high 25 points to help Norfolk State University overcome a sluggish start and defeat South Carolina State, 68-54 in the quarterfinals of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament at the Norfolk Scope.
The Spartans (20-12), the Number 2 seed, advance to the semifinal round against the winner of the Maryland Eastern Shore-Hampton game on Friday at 2:30 pm.
The Bulldogs (11-22), the Number 7 seed, jumped out to an early lead and built it to 29-14 at the 6:07 mark. Edward Stephens (12 points), who was a perfect 4 for 4 from three-point range and Jalen White (nine points) combined to lead the Bulldogs to the early advantage.
But from there, the Spartans would close out the half with a 16-2 run that cut the deficit to 31-30 at intermission. Short, a first team All-MEAC selection, spearheaded the rally by scoring 13 points over the last four minutes.
“I just stayed aggressive,” said Short, who averages almost 20 points per game. “For us to win, I have to score.”
Norfolk State switched defenses and it changed the complexion of the game. Employing full-court pressure and man-to-man in the half-court, the Spartans stymied the Bulldogs, limiting them to one shot. On the offensive end, Short continued his array of shots, connecting on six of nine while D’Shon Taylor contributed 14 of his 16 in the second stanza. The Spartans opened the second half where they left off, outscoring the Bulldogs, 13-4.
“We started out in a 3-2 zone and was not working,” said Norfolk State head coach Robert Jones. “We went man-to-man and then to a 2-3 zone to get out on the wings. That was the difference.”
It must be noted that Norfolk State played without the services of their second leading scorer and leading rebounder, Rashid Gaston, who went down with an injury and played only 13 minutes.
“He aggravated an old knee injury and he will be evaluated,” added Coach Jones.
Despite getting dominated in the paint (36-18) and giving up 19 points off turnovers, South Carolina State still had a chance when Gerdarius Troutman tallied all nine of his points during a short span to reduce the deficit to 49-44 at the 8:46 mark.
But the Spartans snuffed out any comeback attempts as Short closed out the game.
“Norfolk State showed why they are the Number 2 seed,” said South Carolina State head coach Murray Garvin. “Once they got the momentum, they never let up. We have had problems all season going into lulls and we can’t score. They turned us over and got 19 points off our turnovers.”