Delaware State Nearly Upsets Norfolk State in Dover

By: Ethan Hennessy

Dover Delaware

Monday night’s game featured two teams going in opposite directions. Norfolk State was 16-5 (7-1 in the MEAC), had won seven of their last eight games, and as defending MEAC champions had made and won a game in the NCAA Tournament. Meanwhile, Delaware State under first-year head coach Stan Waterman was struggling mightily. The hornets were 2-18 (0-8 in the MEAC), they lost 16 straight games meaning they hadn’t won a game in nearly three calendar months, the two wins to their name were both non division one teams, and they sat dead last in the MEAC standings.

Given all of this nobody would have been surprised to see a spartan blowout. I’ll be honest that is what I was expecting, but the beauty of college basketball is you show up to the arena and you never know what will happen.

After DSU grabbed the first points on a three NSU took the lead and held it for much of the first half. The spartans were never able to push the margin beyond eight as their shooting was cold. The green and yellow went 2-15 from behind the arc. When they did score a basket coach Jones could be seen on the sideline yelling at his guys to move up and press. Dominik Fragala made a three-pointer for DSU to make the halftime score 26-23 Norfolk.

Norfolk State’s press.

In the second half the hornets came out and took the lead. If felt like they could not miss for the first part of the second half. Norfolk State was playing good defense but even with hands in their faces, the Delaware State players were just hitting contested shots.

The Delaware State Hornet posing for a picture.

The turning point of the game was at the 8:48 mark. Delaware State held a 50-43 advantage when Jalen Hawkins for Norfolk State drove the ball. John Stansbury slid in front to draw a charge. The bang-bang play was initially called a charge on NSU Delaware State ball. The Memorial Hall crowd erupted. This would have given the Hornets the ball up seven with the crowd at their back and NSU rattled. However, after an officials meeting the call was reversed NSU was awarded the basket and the foul. Hawkins made the free throw stealing the momentum back for the spartans as they were able to cut the lead to five. This was the jumpstart Norfolk State needed. They went on to tie the game after Jenkins made a layup and Bryant knocked down a three.

The two teams went back and forth for the next few minutes of game time. Every time Norfolk State would hit a shot Delaware State would counter with a three-pointer. The Hornets shot 45.5% from three on the game. Afterward, Norfolk State coach Robert Jones said “We were too lackadaisical on the ball. Guys were popping out on the ball and we were just letting them shoot.”

One of DSU’s 10 made threes on the night.

The game looked to be out of reach with 45 seconds left NSU had the ball and was up 69-63. However, on a bad inbounds pass Delaware State’s John Stansbury stole the inbounds pass near the free-throw line and euro stepped his way to the basket for a and one layup. After an empty spartan possession, DSU had the ability to tie the game in the last possession but the play they ran looked discombobulated and ended in a missed three by the Hornets as Norfolk State escaped Dover with a hard-fought win.

The win was Robert Jone’s 100th career MEAC win. I spoke with him after the game and he told me “100 wins is a great accomplishment. I don’t like the way the 100th win came today, but it’s a great accomplishment. A lot of coaches don’t last long enough to get 100 conference wins and some coaches just can’t get 100 conference wins, so I’m blessed to have that under my belt”.

Coach Jones smiling after picking up his 100th MEAC win.

Stan Waterman said postgame “I’m obviously disappointed with the outcome of the game but pleased with the effort. They fought for 40 minutes, and we’re getting better. We’re not settling for any moral victories, but as we get closer to the MEAC tournament you can feel the chemistry getting better for the team. Our preparation has been better. Quite honestly we’ve been performing better.”

Robert Jones and Stan Waterman talking after the game in Dover DE.

Up next for Delaware State they head down south to transverse the longest geographical spread in the MEAC to play at South Carolina State on Saturday. For Norfolk State, they continue with game two of a three-game road trip on Saturday when they make the trip to West Baltimore to face the Eagles of Coppin State.

Getting my picture with the Hornet.

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