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Caldwell University Student dribbling ball during a basketball match.

WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J.- The Caldwell University men’s basketball team defeated Division I Norfolk St University 64-54 at the Fort Myers Tip-Off hosted at Monmouth University.

The Cougars improve to 3-4 on the season, while the Spartans fall to 3-4.

Norfolk St. opened up a 12-6 lead over the first five minutes of the game. Caldwell trailed by single digits for most of the half as they battled back to pull even at 22 following a free throw by senior Ruud Lutterman (Dalem, Netherlands) at the 3:42 mark. The Spartans retook the lead and led 28-24 at halftime.

Caldwell opened the second half on a 13-4 run to pull ahead 37-32 at the 16:01 mark. Senior AJ Kittles (Glassboro, N.J.) drained a three-pointer, while senior Vaughn Covington (Sicklerville, N.J.) added a triple and two free throws in the run. Senior Eric Johnson-Alford (Clifton, N.J.) capped the run with a three-pointer to five the Cougars a five-point advantage.

The Cougars maintained a lead for most of the second half as Norfolk St. pulled even at 51 with 4:27 left in the game. Caldwell pulled away with a 10-1 run as Covington hit four free throws and added a bucket. Johnson-Alford converted a key three-point play with under minute to play as Caldwell’s defense limited the Spartans to three free throws and no field goals over the final four minutes.

Covington led the way with 20 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Johnson-Alford chipped in 15 points and nine boards, while Kittles added eight points and three rebounds.

The Cougars are back in action as they travel to Nyack College for a conference game on Wednesday, December 7 at 7:30 pm.