By Joshua J. Darling, Sports Information Director
ATLANTA, Ga. – A back-and-forth first half would devolve into a second that would see Alabama A&M (0-4, 0-0 SWAC) surrender several large runs as they fell 89-83 to Norfolk State (3-2, 0-0 MEAC) in an NCAA Division I men’s basketball game on Saturday, November 19.
Playing in his hometown, junior guard Messiah Thompson (Atlanta, Ga.) lit it up for 18 points behind 4-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc and added three assists, three steals and a pair of rebounds to pace the Bulldogs. Junior forward Dailin Smith (Colorado Springs, Colo.) was another effective scorer, but in a different way as he went 9-of-10 at the line to get to his 17 points,
Senior guard Garrett Hicks (Madison, Ala.) finished with 13 points, five caroms and three assists and sophomore forward Austin Harvell (Athens, Ala.) added 10 points. Senior guard Cameron Tucker (Birmingham, Ala.) added four assists and graduate center Olisa Blaise Akonobi (Abuja, Nigeria) chipped in with five points and six caroms.
It would be a nip-and-tuck affair throughout the first half as the clubs would be separated by no more than three points and battle through two ties and nine lead changes over the first 9:39. The last of those would see back-to-back threes from Thompson and Harvell to take the Bulldogs from down 21-19 to up 25-21 by the 8:45 mark.
From there the Spartans would respond with a commanding 16-6 run that featured five different scorers on their way to a 37-31 lead with 2:01 on the clock. A&M then put together a 7-2 stretch to cut it to one before heading to the locker room trailing 42-38 following a buzzer beating triple by Christian Ings.
Following a jumper by Thompson in the opening minute of the second half, NSU scored eight straight points as part of 13-2 run that extended their lead to 55-42 with 13:22 to play. From there they would maintain at least a double-digit lead, eventually growing it to 20 points on a pair of occasions, the last being 77-57 at 6:26.
The Bulldogs would methodically work back and cut the lead to five twice, those coming with 33 and 19 seconds left but could get no closer as Norfolk State hit on 4-of-6 free throws down the stretch to lock down the 89-83 victory.
Caheim Brown led the Spartan attack with 20 points, four rebounds, two steals and a pair of assists while Ings finished with 15 points and seven assists. Joining them was Dana Tate, Jr. with 14 points and Joe Bryant, Jr. added 10 points, five assists, three steals and three boards. Kris Bankston just missed a double-double with eight points and eight rebounds and George Beale, Jr. chipped in with nine points to round out the top performers.
The Bulldogs will continue to face teams for the first time as they welcome Louisiana Tech to the brand new Events Center on Wednesday, November 23. Game time is set for 7 p.m. against that first time opponent in what will be the opening game of that 6,000-seat, State-of-the-Art facility.
This release was impacted by a significant delay in the delivery of final statistics from the host site.