When the final buzzer sounded, the ball was in Pendarvis Williams' hands. That is only right.
It was the play of the senior from Norfolk State that helped the Spartans edge out Savannah State in a battle for position at the top of the MEAC, 56-49.
In a game that was more memorable for its sloppy play, and mental mistakes, Williams turned it on when it mattered most -- just when it looked like Norfolk State was going to be a loser.
The spark came with 3:45 remaining in the second half and the Spartans down two. Williams, all 6-6 of him, took on Jyles Smith for a rebound at the Savannah State end. Now, Smith is only 6-9 but he has a wingspan that seems to reach from one sideline to the other.
Yet, there was this little green shirt pulling the ball away from Smith and forcing the Savannah State shot blocker extraordinaire to foul him.
Of course, he hit both free throws.
And then he did what you would expect from Williams: he stole the ball in the backcourt and took it to the hoop to give Norfolk State its first lead in nearly 11 minutes, an eternity that was marked by missed free throws, turnovers and unnecessary fouls by the Spartans.
They would never look back.
Norfolk State is lucky to get out with a win. They just didn't play smart basketball all night long. Brandon Goode played just 19 minutes thanks to two early fouls and then a technical near the start of the second half. Richard Gaston did what he could inside, with 13 rebounds but he doesn't have the 7-0 Gaston's body to dominate in the lane. They committed 18 turnovers, many of which could have been prevented with a little more heads-up play.
And the Spartans didn't take advantage of the opportunities that the Tigers gave them again and again. Despite getting into the bonus with more than 10 minutes remaining in the game, Norfolk State didn't press the lane and try to get to the line. Even when they did, they couldn't make their foul shots, going just 14-for-23 and missing the front end of 1-and-1s several times.
All of that masked a pretty decent game by Savannah State, that needed a little bit better shooting to take this one home. The Tigers were just 16-for-48 from the floor and a sad 3-for-19 from three.
Smith finished with six blocks and is within striking distance of Norfolk State folk hero Kyle O'Quinn on the career swats list. Joshua Montgomery had 13 points, and was one of the few Tigers who looked comfortable shooting the ball all night.
Yet Savannah State didn't have its own Pendarvis Williams, a senior who could take the game over when his team most needed it.
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