The scene repeated itself throughout the first half. An Albany State player threw up an errant shot and her undersized teammates raced to the basket as FAMU players watched. The Rattlerettes took a pounding on the boards from a team with no player over six feet.
“That concerns me,” said Debra Clark, in her second game as women’s basketball coach. “We have to do something about our rebounding.”
Speaking after the Rattlerettes’ 59-35 victory in Saturday’s exhibition at Gaither Gym, Clark said her team, while talented, still needed to elevate its game before Friday’s regular season opener at Auburn.
“Our biggest problems are our intensity and effort,” Clark said. “We need to pick it up a notch.”
Building on its opening exhibition win over Fort Valley State, FAMU rebounded from a shaky first half to put away another Division II school.
After a sloppy first ten minutes, where FAMU repeatedly scored, only to see the Lady Rams run out and convert some easy transition baskets, a tenacious defense, led by Tanise Thomas, shut down Albany State.
Staked to a 33-23 halftime lead, FAMU held Albany State scoreless for the first 11 minutes of the second half. Repeatedly, Albany State, under pressure from Thomas and newcomer Dierdre Tyus on the perimeter, turned the ball over or forced a hurried shot.
A jumper by guard V’Ashley Floyd at 8:40 ended the drought, but FAMU had extended its lead to 49-25, putting the game out of reach.
In her second game, Tyus, a freshman 5’9″ guard from Montgomery, Ala., displayed a soft left-handed touch. Tyus poured in 17 points, drawing praise from senior forward Phaedra Mashburn.
“For her to come out of high school and play this comfortably, she’s only going to get better,” Mashburn said.
Coach Clark echoed Mashburn’s comments, noting Tyus’ rare poise for a freshman.
“She really came in here ready to play,” Clark said. “She scores for us, and we need some scoring.”
Mashburn also provided some punch to the Rattlerette offense, chipping in with 14 points.
After forcing some shots in the first half, Mashburn settled down and displayed creativity with her dribble and an inventive post game, scoring twice on quick spin moves to the baseline.
Mashburn credited her trainer, who identified himself as Coach Aliyy, for a strict offseason regimen designed to strengthen her ball-handling and all-round game.
Aliyy said he emphasized to Mashburn the importance of a better perimeter game and more agile footwork to open up her interior game.
“I designed the program for her to get her to reach her optimum performance,” Aliyy said. “She’s a hard worker.”
Undaunted by a regular season opener on the road against a major conference foe, Mashburn acknowledged that Auburn will be a bigger team and harder to contain . By scoring 70 points and outrebounding the Tigers, two goals for the team for every game this year, Mashburn said the team would be competitive Friday.