Kyle O'Quinn had 25 points and 12 rebounds to lead Norfolk State over Howard 68-53 on Wednesday in the opening round of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament.
The Spartans (11-19) trailed 39-32 with 16:17 to go before scoring 20 unanswered points to take a 52-39 lead with 9:05 remaining.
The Bison (6-24) missed 14 consecutive field-goal attempts over a 10:45 stretch, including the 20-0 run, turning a seven-point advantage into a 16-point deficit, 59-43.
Kyle Riley scored 14 points, Anton Dickerson and Dadrian Collins had 11 each and Gary Lawrence grabbed 12 rebounds for Howard, which shot 23.3 percent from the floor (7 of 30) in the second half.
Marcos Tamares added 11 points and Pendarvis Williams 10 for Norfolk State, which posted a 36-18 scoring edge in the paint.
The Spartans will face No. 3 Coppin State (16-13) in the quarterfinals on Thursday night.