Norfolk State became something of a household name last season after knocking off second-seeded Missouri as a 15 seed in last year’s NCAA tournament. It only helped the spirit of the upset when then-senior forward Kyle O’Quinn showed that he was one of the most likable players in the country in a wide-eyed, off-the-cuff postgame interview with Craig Sager.
Despite losing O’Quinn, Norfolk State carried the momentum of last season’s success into this year, running the table at a perfect 16-0 in the MEAC conference slate and looking for its second straight automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. That run came to an end Wednesday night, as the Spartans were upset in overtime by No. 8-seeded Bethune-Cookman, 70-68, in the MEAC quarterfinals.
Norfolk State led by 10 at halftime and pushed the lead to as many as 13 in the second half, but the Spartans were plagued by poor 32-percent shooting and were badly outrebounded in the loss.
The Spartans become another example of a dominant small-conference team during the regular season that stumbles in the conference tournament, forcing them to miss out on the NCAAs.