Author: Daniel Martin

Norfolk State

One-time NCAA tournament darling Norfolk State loses in MEAC quarterfinals

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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.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Air Force guard Michael Lyons injured in loss to UNLV

Michael Lyons
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Once leading scorer Michael Lyons went down in the early minutes of Air Force’s game Wednesday against UNLV, there wasn’t much the Falcons could do. Lyons injured his knee less than two minutes into the game after turning the ball over, falling to the ground and not getting up for the remainder of the play.

Without Lyons in the lineup, Air Force lost his 18.3 points per game and was unable to contain the Anthony Bennett-led UNLV offense in a 72-56 loss at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nev.

Air Force sports information director Jerry Cross said Lyons had sprained his knee, as reported by, which kept him out for the game.

The loss officially seals Air Force out of the NCAA tournament, but they will likely make an appearance in the NIT. According to Jeff Goodman of, it is possible that Lyons tore his meniscus, an injury that would keep him sidelined for any sort of postseason play if the injury is ultimately shown to be that severe.

If he is out for the rest of the season, the Falcons would be left with a massive offensive hole that would be difficult to fill. No other player on the team averages double figures in scoring and without Lyons in the lineup for the most part Wednesday, Air Force mustered just 53 points. That was well off its season average of 71 points per game.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Brandon Triche, No. 19 Syracuse find shooting touch in win over Seton Hall

Brandon Triche
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The final five games of the Big East regular season were unkind to Syracuse. The Orange lost four of five games down the stretch, shooting just over 37 percent from the floor in those defeats. Included in that was a 39-point performance against rival Georgetown, one of the lowest offensive outputs in school history.

But James Southerland and Brandon Triche sparked the Syracuse offense Wednesday and pulled it out of its slump in the Orange’s 75-63 win over Seton Hall at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The win moves No. 19 Syracuse on to face No. 17 Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament on Thursday.

Offensive struggles have been the focus for a Syracuse team that earlier in the season looked poised to be in the running for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Much of that centered around the struggles of Triche, who shot a combined 15-of-52 from the floor in the previous five games after being such an integral part of the Syracuse offense throughout the year.

He broke out of that Wednesday with 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting, helped along by Southerland’s 20 points and 16 more from C.J. Fair. Point guard Michael Carter-Williams facilitated the offense, tying a Big East tournament record with 14 assists.

The impact of a productive Syracuse offense goes beyond just scoring points, though. Making shots allows the Orange to set up defensively and fall back into their patented zone defense, which in turn makes it more difficult for the opponent to hit shots. Syracuse weathered Seton Hall’s hot shooting in the first half, but ultimately pulled away in the second.

Pittsburgh’s defense will be much tougher Thursday than Seton Hall’s was Wednesday, but hitting shots will go a long way toward helping the Orange advance to the Big East semifinals.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_