FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – No. 13 Nova Southeastern needed about 10 minutes to find its footing, but gradually built a double-digit lead towards the tail end of the first half before eventually cruising to a 91-80 victory over Tampa in the Sunshine State Conference opener for both sides on Saturday. Freshman Dallas Graziani matched a team high with 21 points in his first career start, while Sekou Sylla matched Graziani with 21 of his own to go along with 11 rebounds.
INSIDE THE MATCHUP:
Score: No. 13 Nova Southeastern 91, Tampa 80
Records: No. 13 Nova Southeastern (2-0, 1-0 SSC), Tampa (1-2, 0-1 SSC)
Location: Rick Case Arena | Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Get Social: Twitter – @NSU_MBasketball | Instagram – @NSU_MBasketball
HOW IT HAPPENED:
1st Half | NSU stared at a 10-2 deficit just 2:57 in after a fastbreak lay-up by Tampa’s Max Jones forced the Sharks to call a 30-second timeout. The Sharks still trailed by seven with 12:10 left in the half until a pair of three pointers by Lukas Speidel and Graziani keyed a 9-0 run to give NSU its first lead of the afternoon at 20-18. The two-point margin remained at the 5:33 mark. A jumper by Sylla pushed the advantage to four before Shane Hunter slammed home a feed from Kobe Rodgers to extend the lead to 36-30. As part of a 15-6 stretch to close the half, both Sylla and Graziani added consecutive lay-ups, sending the Sharks into the break in front 47-36.
2nd Half | The Sharks picked up right where they left off to begin the second half, picking up a steal and a score on the opening possession. A pair of free throws and a jumper by Rodgers built the lead further to 55-38, when Sylla then scored eight straight for the Sharks in a span of 41 seconds to make it a 62-44 contest with 15:48 remaining. The cushion eclipsed 20 on another Sylla bucket midway through the half, and would reach as many as 23 on a Hunter triple with 5:16 to go, as NSU eased to its first SSC win of the young season.
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE:
- NSU has now won all four of its SSC openers under head coach Jim Crutchfield.
- Crutchfield is now 8-0 in his NSU career against Tampa.
- Sylla has notched double-doubles in each of his first two games as a Shark, averaging 20.5 points and 11.5 rebounds.
STATS OF THE NIGHT:
- NSU shot an identical 50 percent from the field in each of the two halves.
- The Sharks committed just 10 turnovers in the effort, while forcing Tampa into 19 on the defensive end.
- Rodgers finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and five assists. All nine of his rebounds came on the offensive glass.
- Speidel chipped in with 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting.
- Hunter tallied for of NSU’s five blocked shots.
The Sharks have one more ball game leading into the Thanksgiving break, playing host to Nyack next Tuesday, Nov. 23 at 1 p.m. For complete coverage of the action, visit the schedule page on NSUSharks.com or follow the Sharks on Twitter @NSU_MBasketball.