Carter scores 31 as Spartans down Coppin State

David Hall, The Virginian-Pilot
·3 min read

Devante Carter took what he was given Sunday.

And he helped dish out a measure of revenge.

Carter scored a career-high 31 points to lead Norfolk State to an important 84-72 MEAC victory over Coppin State at Echols H 1/4 u00e5ll.

The Spartans (10-6, 5-3 MEAC) at least partially avenged a pair of losses at Coppin State two weeks earlier. The teams finish the four-game, home-and-home season series Monday night on ESPNU.

Carter, a senior guard from Newport News, did his damage on 11-of-20 shooting, much of it from around the lane’s elbow. It’s become a signature shot for the 6-foot-3 transfer from Odessa (Texas) College.

“That’s the sweet spot,” said Carter, who also pulled down eight rebounds and issued seven assists. “I love the middie. If they give it to me, I’m going to take it. That’s the sweet spot, man.”

Despite a substandard 5-for-16 shooting night, Joe Bryant had a double-double for NSU, with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Jalen Hawkins scored 14 points for the Spartans, who shot 43.7% and had a massive 44-28 rebounding advantage.

NSU forced 20 turnovers, converting them into 21 points.

But there always remains room for improvement.

“I’ll take the 20 turnovers,” Spartans coach Robert Jones said. “I’ll take the 12-point win, too. But I definitely want to get our defense even better.”

DeJuan Clayton scored 18 points for the Eagles (6-12, 5-4), who join NSU and first-place Morgan State in a three-team struggle atop the MEAC Northern Division.

But Carter, who entered Sunday averaging a team-high 14.3 points per game, wasn’t interested in discussing the big picture.

“At this point, we’re just trying to get every win,” he said. “Every win counts. Every game counts, so every game is important from here on out. We had to start from here to get on a streak and get to the next one.”

It wasn’t easy. The Spartans went ahead 72-61 on a pair of free throws by Chris Ford with 6:55 to play. Coppin State cut the lead to eight on four occasions down the stretch before a series of defensive stops allowed the Spartans to keep the visitors at arm’s length. The final margin matched NSU’s biggest lead of the game.

“We were able to string them together when we needed to string them together and get those stops,” Jones said.

Carter, who played a postgraduate season at Florida’s Montverde Academy after starring for Woodside High, connected five times from outside the paint and made all eight of his free throws.

It helped the Spartans find breathing room in a game that was tied 51-51 just more than five minutes into the second half. NSU led the rest of the way, with Carter scoring 20 points in the second half.

“They leave the midrange open, and he’s a great midrange shooter,” Jones said. “So he took the shots that he’s supposed to take, that he would take any other time. It just so happened they left him open even more, and he took 20 of them.”

The Spartans got points from nine players, including 31 points off the bench. But Carter stopped short of calling it a complete effort.

“It wasn’t a perfect game by no means,” he said. “It was a good game, but we still have a lot to work on.”

David Hall, david.hall@pilotonline.com