After leaving the door open for Hampton’s 18-point comeback win Saturday, the Rattlers didn’t forget to shut the door Monday against Norfolk State as they won in convincing fashion 72-62 in the Gaither Center.
The Rattlers held a 16-point lead at halftime and then went up by as many as 19 points in the second half. But they never would let the lead get less than eight points.
“I thought that we learned (from Saturday’s loss) and we came out today very determined to make sure that we got out of here with a win,” said head coach Mike Gillespie.
Rather fittingly, senior center Jermaine Hill led FAMU in making sure that door stayed closed on its annual senior night with a game high of 20 points in only 28 minutes. Hill scored 13 or those 20 points in the all-important second half.
“I wasn’t really concerned about the senior night, it was just (that) we needed to win,” Hill said.
On this night for seniors, a junior from Memphis, Tennessee made history. Guard Terrence Woods eclipsed Coppin State’s Keith Carmichael’s 1994 record of 107 3-pointers made in a season. After hitting three in the first half, Woods now has hit a record 109 3-pointers this season.
“I didn’t even know,” said a startled but happy Woods after learning about his new record. “It didn’t really mean anything tonight because the most important thing tonight was coming in and getting the win.”
The Rattlers came out in the first half with a ferocious full-court press. The defensive pressure caused the Spartans to commit six turnovers, which allowed the Rattlers to jump out to a commanding 22-8 lead with 13:34 remaining in the first half.
FAMU’s double-digit lead would’nt be relinquished until NSU’s sophomore guard Ryan Grier hit a mid-range jumper, making the score 61-52 with five minutes and 21 seconds remaining in the game. On his night, senior guard Michael Griffith quickly answered with an important three-pointer that put the Rattlers up 12 with five minutes left.
“It was important for me to make a shot to pick the team up being a senior,” said Griffith, who finished with nine points and seven rebounds. “The night was kind of special, but the most important thing (was) we got the win.”
The Rattlers again shot poorly in the second half from the foul line, a wretched 25 percent, and Woods did not have a field goal; however, their defense down the stretch made up for it. Against Hampton, the Rattlers gave up 38 points during the final ten minutes of the game. In contrast, FAMU only allowed 18 points in the same time frame Monday against NSU (11-13, 8-7).
FAMU (13-11, 8-7) will now go on a three-game road trip to end the regular season, starting with a match up Saturday against Coppin State.
Ibram Rogers can be reached at Jamalrara@aol.com.