Norfolk State freshman Rashid Gaston had the best game of his young collegiate career, racking up a career-high 20 points to go with 10 rebounds as the Spartans clinched their first MEAC regular-season championship with Monday's 69-58 home win over Florida A&M.
Norfolk State (20-10, 15-0) reached the 20-win mark for the second consecutive season and logged its 14th consecutive victory. Not only did the Spartans capture their first regular-season hardware as a Division I team, they also guaranteed themselves at least a berth in the NIT if they should happen to stumble in the MEAC tourney and miss out on the NCAA tournament.
The Spartans join Memphis, Louisiana Tech and No. 1 Gonzaga as the only Division I teams yet to lose a conference game during the 2012-13 campaign.
The Spartans shot 49 percent from the field, and limited the Rattlers (8-21, 5-10) to 31 percent shooting.
Norfolk State started fast, opening up a 26-8 lead, but the Rattlers narrowed the deficit to 33-29 by halftime. Florida A&M got as close as two points in the second half, but Pendarvis Williams scored six straight points as part of a 9-1 run by Norfolk State to rebuild a 48-39 advantage.
Williams scored 14 points and Brandon Goode added 10 points for the Spartans, who play their final regular-season game Thursday against North Carolina A&T.
Jamie Adams scored 13 points and Reggie Lewis 12 for FAMU.