The Lady Rattlers basketball team played home court advantage in Gaither Gymnasium Tuesday, as they emerged victorious over the Albany State University Lady Rams, 67-56.
The game’s opening moments were unpleasant, until senior forward Quiadara Russell made two free throws, scoring the first points of the game nearly four minutes after tip-off. Amidst turnovers and what looked like early season jitters, the game’s pace moved along slowly as each team capitalized on the other’s miscues.
Senior forward Ariel Towns provided high energy and instant offense, scoring four quick points, including a lay-up off of an assist from guard Dierdre’ Tyus that gave the Lady Rattlers an early 10-8 lead.
Towns led the Lady Rattlers through the first half, as the team attempted to diffuse the Lady Rams’ scoring streak, with shooting led by guard duo ViAshley Floyd and Cydney Smith. Together, they accounted for five of the Lady Rams’ six first-half three pointers. Floyd connected all four of her three-point shots in the first half alone as she strengthened the Lady Rams with her team-leading sixteen points. Smith finished with 11 points and five turnovers.
The Lady Rattlers trailed 29-34 with 45 seconds remaining in the half until junior forward Myiah Hughes and freshman guard Josalyne Jackson trimmed the lead to one at 33-34 with their lay-ups.
“In the first half, we were giving up open looks, we weren’t putting pressure on the passers and just giving up open looks,” said Assistant Coach John Clark. “The improvement was there; each day we preach to get better. Tonight was an example of how we improved from last Friday.”
In the second half, Rattlers came out noticeably sharper on both defense and offense.
“In the first half, we lacked pressure and intensity. We shifted our defensive focus in the second half,” Head Coach Debra Clark said.
Russell continued to leadscoring the first points of the half on a jumper in the paint. She finished with sixteen points and three rebounds.
The Lady Rams held the rebounding advantage throughout the game 20-12, but overall team play favored the Lady Rattlers totaling 13 assists and 17 steals.
A steal and lay-up from freshman center LaKeisha Alexander gave FAMU a 48-35 lead with 14:25 remaining. Alexander finished the game with 10 points and six rebounds.
“This a great freshman class, and they’re adjusting to the college basketball game, John Clark said. “By January, we should be rocking and rolling.”
Senior guard Candace Crawford added 10 points and three steals including a three-pointer of her own with 1:37 remaining.
With their projected starting center Elana Greene injured, the Lady Rattlers still see room for improvement throughout the season.
“We’re gonna work on our reps on the low post defensively, increase pressure, decrease turnovers, and make our opponents as uncomfortable as possible,” said Kenya Grissett, assistant coach. “The future looks bright for us.”
The Lady Rattlers begin the season Sunday at the University of Kentucky.
Contact Troy Weatherspoon at email@example.com