Men's Basketball: Strong Second Half Propels Norwich to First Win of 2020

Photo by: Mark Collier
Photo by: Mark Collier

JOHNSON, Vt. – The Norwich University men's basketball team outscored NVU-Johnson 43-34 while shooting over 50 percent in the second half to earn a narrow 63-60 victory in non-conference action on Tuesday evening in Carter Gymnasium.

Norwich (3-11) snapped a five-game losing streak with the victory. Three players scored in double figures while the defense held the opposition to 31.9 percent shooting from the field.

Sophomore guard Caleb Casinas (Aiea, Hawaii) matched his career-high with 20 points on an efficient 7-of-11 performance from the floor. He was 2-of-4 from deep and a perfect 4-of-4 at the free-throw line. Sophomore forward Donovan Lewis Jr. (Savannah, Ga.) scored 13 points and added eight rebounds while sophomore Samuel-Noah Osarenkhoe (Stockholm, Sweden) also scored a career-high 12 points in his first career start. Junior forward Kyle Booth (Northfield, Vt.) grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds, including four on the offensive glass. Freshman guard Benjamin Mitchell (Poole, Ga.) led the reserves with six points and added five rebounds.

The first half was a defensive battle with neither team able to find much success on offense. The host Badgers jumped out to a 9-2 lead thanks to Ayodeji Shokeye and Zach Shedd who scored all of the points during the run.

A layup by Casinas capped a 9-4 run by the Cadets to reduce the lead to 13-11 at the 12:33 mark. Just one basket was made over the next four minutes before the Badgers poured in eight points to take a 21-13 lead with 6:38 to play.

Five-straight points from the Cadets reduced the deficit to 21-18 which brought the visitors the closest they had been in the game since trailing 3-2 just minutes in. However, the Badgers finished the half on a 5-2 run to take a 26-20 lead into the break.

A pair of buckets from Casinas made it 28-27 in favor of the hosts at the 16:24 mark. Just as the Cadets prepared to take their first lead, NVU-Johnson proceeded to go on a 12-2 run to extend its lead to 11 with just under 13 minutes to play.

Two triples from Osarenkhoe and another from Mitchell again brought the Cadets to within one point at 42-41 with 10:13 to play. After the teams traded baskets, Booth grabbed an errant layup on the defensive end and went coast-to-coast making a contested layup to knot the score at 45-45 at the 8:43 mark.

On the next offensive possession, Casinas gave the Cadets their first lead after nailing a pair of freebies. The teams battled back-and-forth over the next several minutes. With the Cadets trailing 55-53 at the 3:32 mark, Casinas demonstrated the ice in his veins as he coolly deposited back-to-back three-pointers to give the visitors a 59-55 lead with 2:29 to go forcing the Badgers into a timeout.

As the host Badgers feverishly battled to retake the lead, Casinas sunk a critical pair of free throws with 14 seconds left to put the Cadets up 63-60. A three-point attempt by the hosts was unsuccessful at the buzzer as the Cadets held on for their third win of the season.

Norwich will return to conference play this Saturday when it hosts St. Joseph (Conn.) at 1 p.m.