Norfolk State Rallies To Win The Tournament Championship

The Spartans erased an 18-point deficit against Purdue Fort Wayne to win the CIT Final.
Jan 2, 2024; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Norfolk State Spartans head coach Robert Jones during the
Jan 2, 2024; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Norfolk State Spartans head coach Robert Jones during the / Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

NORFOLK, Va. – The Norfolk State men's basketball team ended its 2023-24 campaign with a net-cutting ceremony at Echols Hall – and not for a regular season championship.

The Spartans won the Postseason Tournament Presented by BSN Sports on Wednesday night in front of its home crowd, erasing an 18-point defect to defeat Purdue Fort Wayne, 75-67.

Christian Ings lifted Norfolk State (24-11, 11-3 MEAC) to victory with 17 points, scoring 13 in the second half en route to Most Valuable Player honors. Allen Betrand continued his spectacular tournament, tallying 16 points including a trio of 3-pointers.

Four Spartans scored in double-figures: Ings (17 points), Betrand (16), Jaylani Darden (11), and Jamarii Thomas (10). Norfolk State outscored Purdue Fort Wayne 44-26 in the second half, shooting 17-of-30 (56.7 percent) from the floor during that period.

The Mastodons (23-11, 11-9 Horizon) controlled the pace early, starting with a quick score on the game's opening possession. Back-to-back 3-pointers gave the visiting team an 8-2 advantage.

Purdue Fort Wayne pushed the lead to double digits with a pair of layups from Eric Mulder a few minutes later. Betrand got shots to fall on consecutive possessions to give the Spartans some life, but Quinton Morton-Robertson drilled a 3-pointer at the other end within a matter of moments.

A 3-point basket late in the first half brought the gap to 36-18 for the Mastodons, their largest lead of the night. Tyrel Bladen stopped the momentum with an and-one layup, before Kuluel Mading knocked down a 3-pointer.

Ings got a jump shot to fall at the buzzer, cutting the deficit to 41-31 heading into halftime. He started the second half right where he'd left off, immediately scoring in the paint before hitting a 3-pointer.

A floating jump shot gave Ings the Spartans' first seven points of the second half and last nine points total. Back-to-back scores from Darden and Thomas forced a PFW timeout, the Mastodon's advantage suddenly cut to just two points.

Purdue Fort Wayne made a 3-pointer after the break, but inside baskets from Darden and Bladen pulled the Spartans within one. After a media timeout, Betrand converted behind the arc to push Norfolk State ahead 51-49, the Spartans' first lead of the afternoon.

Ings drained another 3-pointer to break another tie, scoring on the fast break a minute later. The graduate guard came up with a steal on the Mastodon's next possession before calling timeout, hyping up the Spartan bench.

Betrand hit a pair of jumpers in a short span, and Chris Fields Jr. rose for a one-handed slam in between scores. Thomas gave the Spartans a double-digit advantage with a driving layup after the final media timeout, as Norfolk State gained complete control of the ballgame.

Darden provided the championship dagger, draining a 3-pointer in the final minute to give NSU a nine-point lead.

HBCU Legends


HBCU Legends Staff