Coming off two straight MEAC losses to Coppin State and Morgan State, the Rattlers’ search for its first conference victor, came to an end Saturday afternoon.
Kicking off a four-game home stand, the men’s basketball team defeated the Hampton Pirates 87-81.
The Pirates and the Rattlers met in a battle between two teams that were picked to finish first and second in the conference.
In their previous meeting last season, the Pirates were able to come back from an 18-point deficit to beat the Rattlers 83-80.
But the beginning of the game showed signs that another loss was not far-fetched.
The Pirates were able to jump out to an early 18-9 lead behind the hot shooting of sophomore guard Jeff Granger, who scored the team’s first seven points.
FAMU turned the game around, forcing four turnovers on the defensive end. Shooting guard Terrence Woods converted two three-pointers to help put the Rattlers ahead 26-20.
Granger continued to have the hot hand, going 5-7 from the three-point range in the first half.
As the Rattlers searched for answers on defense, Granger ended the first half with 28 points, leading the Pirates to a 45-38 lead.
“I didn’t realize he had that much at halftime,” said forward Michael Harper.
And with a pair of 5-foot-11-inch centers, the Pirates posed the threat of dominating the game down low.
“Our post players simply outplayed them down there,” Coach Mike Gillespie said.
“We knew they were big but they weren’t that fast,” said forward Michael Ayodele. “We just had to beat them to the corners and use our speed.”
Forwards Rick Russell and Brian Zamore were able to play Saturday despite having injuries.
“Harp (Harper) and I knew that if they played, we had to give it 110 percent,” Ayodele said.
The second half began with a pair of three-pointers from Harper and Woods, helping to tie the game 48-48.
The tide was turn with 7:56 left on the clock when Russell put the Rattlers ahead 67-63.
“Rick really made some key plays for us when we needed them,” Gillespie said.
Another three-pointer by Woods and a monstrous dunk by Harper gave the Rattlers a 74-65 lead and the momentum they needed down the stretch to close out the game. Woods finished with 27 points while Harper scored 14.
Granger’s shooting touch went cold in the second half, but he ended with a game high 40 points.
“He was really the only one doing something out there,” Harper said. “We just had to take him out.”
Contact Lemont Calloway at firstname.lastname@example.org.