A second-half surge was not enough to overtake the Norfolk State Spartans (21-9, 12-3 MEAC) Monday night, as the Rattlers basketball team (8-21, 6-9 MEAC) fell 79-70 in the Al Lawson Center.
Despite displaying energy early in the game, the Rattlers concluded the half with 35 percent shooting from the field.
A physical performance by guard Reggie Lewis led to his first intentional foul of the season. Head coach Clemon Johnson said he did not believe the foul was malicious and afterward spoke with Lewis.
“I told him, ‘You’re watching too much NBA. You can do that in the NBA but not on the collegiate level. He didn’t go for the basketball,'” Johnson said.
The foul resulted in two Spartans free throws and a momentum shift in their favor. But because of consistent three-point shooting by point guard Avery Moore, the Rattlers entered halftime at a 39-30 disadvantage.
The Rattlers exited the halftime period with energy similar to the first half. Even with the effort, the Spartans continued to shoot efficiently and seized a 21-point advantage.
The lead would not last for long, as the Rattlers maintained a 12-0 run late in the second half to cut the deficit to nine points. That was as closest the Rattlers came, as the Spartans offensive performance was more than they could overcome.
Forward Amin Stevens paced the Rattlers with a game-high 19 points and 15 boards.
Spartans forward A.J. Rogers scored 13 points off the bench to help resist the Rattlers’ late run.
“Tonight we ran out of time. When we made our run it was with two minutes left on the clock,” Johnson said. Johnson said he knew his team would not have many opportunities to score during the second half because the Spartans controlled the clock.
Despite their loss, the Rattlers said they could use this game’s intensity to their advantage Thursday during their season finale when they take on Morgan State.
Center Yannick Crowder said Johnson was the reason for the team’s energy boost down the stretch.
“Coach Johnson gave us a pretty good speech and kind of checked us,” Crowder said. “He told us to look at ourselves in the mirror and see how bad we wanted it. I believe that motivated us to go harder.”
Tip-off against the Bears begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Al Lawson Center.