App State Falls To Norfolk State In First Four

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Devante Carter made two free throws with 8.6 seconds remaining, and Norfolk State held on to beat Appalachian State 54-53 in the First Four on Thursday night after blowing an 18-point second-half lead.

The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion Spartans completed a sweep by historically Black colleges and universities on the first day of NCAA Tournament play, joining Southwestern Athletic Conference champion Texas Southern, which beat Mount St. Mary’s earlier Thursday. Norfolk State advanced to face top overall seed Gonzaga on Saturday.

Jalen Hawkins scored 20 of his 24 points before halftime for the Spartans (17-7), who earned their first tournament win since upsetting No. 2 seed Missouri in 2012.

Justin Forrest had 18 points for App State (17-12), which shot 27% and missed its final 10 attempts.

The Mountaineers pushed ahead 51-45 on Forrest’s layup with 5:48 remaining, but its only points after that were two free throws by Adrian Delph with 1:03 left that made it 53-52. Carter, who shot 1 of 10 from the field, answered by making his only two free-throw attempts of the game. App State missed two late shots on its final possession.

BIG PICTURE

Norfolk State: Hawkins and the Spartans made shots and set the tone in the first half that had App State on its heels. Just as quickly, they lost focus and the lead before recovering.

Appalachian State: It couldn’t have started any worse for the Mountaineers, who missed all 18 3-pointers in the first half. Just like that, they appeared to take control before missing shots down the stretch that could have sealed an emotional victory.