NORFOLK, Va. – Norfolk State held Florida A&M in check most of the night on the way to an 80-71 win over the Rattlers on Monday night in a MEAC men's basketball contest at Joseph Echols Hall. NSU carried an eight-point lead into the half and never let it go, pushing through at the free throw line and dominating on the boards. Sophomore Nic Thomas made 12-of-12 from the charity stripe to lead the Spartans with 20 points on the night.
The Spartans won their second in a row after taking down Bethune-Cookman on Saturday. They improved to 4-3 in the MEAC and 6-16 overall. Sophomore Steven Whitley added 17 points and seven rebounds, part of a collective effort that saw NSU outrebound the Rattlers 44-25. Justin Ravenel totaled 21 points on 6-of-10 shooting, 5-of-8 from downtown, to lead FAMU (4-19, 3-4 MEAC). Desmond Williams made 10-of-12 from the free throw line and finished with 19 points and eight boards.
The Spartans led for the last 28 minutes of the game. Florida A&M had the early advantage, but NSU scored 10 straight to go up 16-12. Ravenel hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Rattlers the lead back before NSU scored seven in a row and 10 of the next 12 points for a 26-20 edge. Still with seven minutes left, NSU went nearly three and a half minutes without scoring but still led by at least four. Thomas made a pair of free throws with 2:25 left for a 32-22 lead, and the Spartans went into halftime up 36-28.
FAMU shot just 29 percent in the first half and 35.5 percent for the game (22-of-62). The Rattlers did sink 19-of-21 from the foul line and were +10 in the turnover department (15-5). They outscored Norfolk State 17-0 in points off turnovers.
The teams traded points through the first several minutes of the second half before Whitley's 3-point play and junior Alex Long's short jumper pushed the lead to 12, 47-35, with 13:38 on the clock. The advantage went to 14 at 54-40 after Thomas sank a 3-pointer from the left corner three minutes later.
The lead stretched to as much as 15. Williams scored eight straight for the Rattlers at one point, and Ravenel's 4-point play got them to seven with 2:17 to go. Florida A&M never got any closer the rest of the way.
Senior Kyle Williams was the only other player for Norfolk State in double figures with 12 points. Senior Dan Robinson and junior Derrik Jamerson Jr. each had eight rebounds, and senior Stavian Allen added eight points and six boards. As a team, Norfolk State connected on 23-of-48 (47.9 percent) from the floor as well as 28-of-37 from the free throw line.