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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Norfolk State pushes past Alabama A&M in CIT

NORFOLK, Va. – Playing a postseason game in front of a home crowd at Echols Hall, the Norfolk State men’s basketball team delivered an 81-66 victory over Alabama A&M on Saturday.

The Spartans (23-11, 11-3 MEAC) used a strong second half to overcome an early lead from the Bulldogs (12-23, 9-9 SWAC) in the semifinals of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT). Norfolk State advances to the tournament’s championship game for the first time in program history, the location and date of the title game to be determined.

Dubbed the “John McLendon Classic”, the game honors the legendary late head coach. The first African American coach to win an integrated national championship, McLendon won three consecutive NAIA titles from 1957-59.

Scoring 15 points on a career-high five 3-pointers in the second half, Daryl Anderson was named the John McLendon Classic Most Valuable Player. Five Spartans scored in double figures on Saturday: Anderson, Allen Betrand (16 points), Jack Doumbia (13), Christian Ings (11), and Chris Fields Jr. (11).

Alabama A&M received 15 points each from Lorenzo Downey and London Riley, as well as a 14-point performance by Chad Moodie.

Neither team could find any sort of offensive rhythm to start the afternoon. It took nearly two and a half minutes for the game’s first points, the tiebreaking score coming on Tyrel Bladen’s two-handed dunk.

Norfolk State, Tyrell Blades

A trio of 3-pointers in a short span helped the Bulldogs jump out to a quick 13-6 advantage. Multiple inside scores from scores by Eric Lee pushed the gap to eight points midway through the first half.

The Spartans began to find some success late in the half, starting with a mid-range jumper by George Beale Jr. A dunk from Fields moments later got the crowd involved, before Gilbert Brown Jr. hit an impressive stepback 3-pointer.

A pair of layups from Betrand pulled the Spartans within two, until Ings cut the deficit to one with a triple near the top of the key. A Bulldog 3-pointer from Riley got the Bulldogs some breathing room again, as Alabama A&M took a 31-28 lead into halftime.

Anderson made his first jumper from behind the arc at the 18:32 mark of the second period, the starting point of a shooting performance for the ages. After Fields tied the game at the free throw line, Anderson gave Norfolk State its first lead since the game’s first three minutes with another triple.

Riley connected from deep twice to put Alabama A&M back in front, but Betrand tied things up with another inside score. Ings pushed the Spartans ahead with a thunderous dunk on the fast break, finishing a nice pass from Jaylani Darden.

The Spartans continued to pile on positive momentum, as Doumbia and Betrand contributed dunks off Ings’ dimes. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Anderson gave Norfolk State a 61-53 lead with six minutes to play.

The gap went to double-digits as NSU began to get to the rim at will. Betrand knocked down a triple in the final minutes, before Anderson’s fifth 3-pointer provided the final blow.

Checking The Box Score

  • Allen Betrand led the Spartans with 16 points, adding three rebounds and two assists
  • Daryl Anderson scored all 15 of his points in the second half, knocking down a career-high five 3-pointers
  • Five Spartans scored in double figures: Betrand (16 points), Anderson (15), Jack Doumbia (13), Christian Ings (11), and Chris Fields Jr. (11)
  • Norfolk State outscored Alabama A&M 53-35 in the second half
  • The Spartans shot 22-of-54 (40.7 percent) from the floor, 8-of-19 (42.1 percent) from behind the arc, and 14-of-17 (82.4 percent) at the free throw line
  • Saturday’s game featured four ties and eight lead changes

News & Notes

  • Norfolk State improved to 23-11 with the win
  • The matchup marked the first postseason game at Echols Hall in Norfolk State’s Division I history
  • Daryl Anderson was named the John McLendon Classic Most Valuable Player, knocking down a career-high five 3-pointers in the second half
  • Alabama A&M dropped to 12-23 with the loss
  • Norfolk State now leads the all-time series between the schools 4-1
  • Norfolk State improved 5-0 this season and 34-1 in head coach Robert Jones‘ tenure when five Spartans score in double figures


With the win, Norfolk State advances to the championship game of the College Insider Postseason Tournament (CIT). The location and date of the game is to be determined

Norfolk State pushes past Alabama A&M in CIT

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