The Norfolk State Spartans won for the fourth time in their last five games on Friday night, pounding long-distance visitor Northern Arizona 81-62 at Echols Hall in Norfolk, Va.
In the first-ever meeting between the two schools on opposite sides of the country, the Spartans (8-5) ran out to a quick 38-20 halftime almost solely behind forward Rashid Gaston and guard Jeffrey Short, who at one point early in the second half had combined to score 30 of their team’s first 40 points.
Short eventually led Norfolk State in scoring with 25 points and Gaston, a preseason All-MEAC selection, added 20 points and 11 rebounds. Spartans guard D’Shon Taylor chipped in 13 points and guard Malik Thomas had eight points and 11 boards.
Northern Arizona (4-7) saw its two-game win streak snapped despite a team-high 17 points from guard Aaseem Dixon.
The Lumberjacks, who fell to 1-5 in road games this year, traveled nearly 2,300 miles for the matchup, which was part of the two-game East Coast swing against two MEAC opponents. Northern Arizona will finish the trip on Sunday at Hampton.
The Lumberjacks also got 12 points from guard Jaleni Neely, but no other Northern Arizona player reached double figures. Guard Quinton Upshur, who came into the game leading the Lumberjacks at 15.5 points per game, is a Norfolk, Va., native. But he didn’t fare well in his homecoming, scoring just three points on 1-of-6 shooting from the field.
Norfolk State next plays Sunday at James Madison, which is the fourth of seven non-conference games for the Spartans before returning to conference action on Jan. 10 at FAMU.
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