Terrence Woods was given the night off.
Woods was in uniform, but the weight of the game did not fall on his shoulders as the Rattlers (4-10, 3-2 ) defeated the Delaware State Hornets (5-8, 4-1) 76-66.
Averaging 21.5 points per game in conference play, Woods went for an uncharacteristic 10 points on three-for-10 shooting.
“I don’t care about scoring 20 points a game,” Woods said. “We all have found our roles and we’re beginning to click as a team.”
Those that seemed to find their place Saturday afternoon were forwards Richard Russell and Michael Harper and guard Demarcus Wilkins. Russell finished the game with nine points while Harper tallied 11 points and grabbed five rebounds. Wilkins led the team with 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists.
“It was very important for other guys to contribute,” said Mike Gillespie, Rattler’s head coach. “To become a great team, they’re going to have to step up.”
FAMU began the game with an up-tempo pace. Guard Tony Tate was able to leak out ahead of the Delaware State defense and establish a running game with several fast breaks.
While they looked to push the ball, the timing and communication of the Rattlers was off as several miscues resulted in missed opportunities close to the basket.
Delaware State center Terrance Hunter brought his own energy to the game with a two-hand alley-oop slam to slim the Rattler lead to 13-7. Hunter led the Hornets in rebounds, pulling down seven and scored a game-high 26 points.
Wilkins found his niche in the first half by penetrating the defense and getting to the free throw line. He was able to convert five of seven free throws and led FAMU with 10 points at the half as the Rattlers went to the locker room with a 34-24 lead.
Harper got into early foul trouble with three first half fouls as well as a technical foul.
“All those calls slowed me down because I was in a groove,” Harper said. “I want to be in the game. I just have to stay mentally tough when the calls go like that.”
The second half saw the coming of Russell who went on a stretch where he scored five straight points and drew an offensive foul on defense.
“I come off the bench with a spark of energy each time I play,” Russell said.
Great free throw shooting down the stretch by Wilkins and Tate, who shot 10-for-12 from the stripe, helped FAMU maintain its lead.
The Rattlers face Howard Bison (3-11, 1-4 MEAC) Monday at 7:30 p.m. in Jake Gaither Gymnasium.
Harper said, “We plan to come with the same recipe.”
LeMont Calloway is an assistant sports editor for The Famuan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org