Lady Rattlers coach Debra Clark said last week that she was beginning to beat herself up over her team’s inability to play consistent basketball.
After Saturday’s 80-77 overtime loss at Gaither Gymnasium to North Carolina A&T, her wounds are becoming severe.
“I was really, really pleased with our efforts in the game to force overtime,” Clark said.
“But if we would have played like that the entire game we wouldn’t have had any problems.”
The Lady Rattlers began the game at a turtle’s pace, allowing the Lady Aggies to build a seven-point lead midway through the first half. By halftime, A&T lead by a score of 40- 28 behind superb shooting from Lady Aggies junior guard Yanumbe Sherman, who had 15 points on five-of-five shooting from 3-point range in the first half. Sherman finished the game with 29 points, going 9-of-10 from behind the arc.
“Defensively we were slow. They shot the ball really well,” said Clark, whose team fell to 5-10 overall (3-4 MEAC).
Clark said she felt her team was not executing on either side of the ball during the first half, thus the reason for the halftime deficit.
In the second half, A&T’s shots continued to fall. With a 22-point lead with less than 13 minutes of the second period left, the Lady Rattlers began a fierce comeback.
The Lady Rattlers went on a 13-0 run to close the Lady Aggies lead to 63-56 with seven minutes to go. From there, Lady Rattlers senior forward Ariel Towns took the game into her own hands. Towns scored 12 of the team’s next 14 points, but her biggest shot of the night came with two seconds left in regulation.
With nine seconds on the clock, senior point guard Tene Miller stole the basketball at half court and attempted a 3-pointer, which Towns rebounded and put back as time expired to tie the game 70-70.
“It felt good,” Towns said, who scored 32 points and grabbed 12 boards in the loss. “I just wanted to win so bad I was just willing to do anything it took to win this game.
“It’s really heartbreaking that we came up short.”
In the overtime session, with the Lady Rattlers ahead by two points, Sherman knocked down a 3-pointer from the left wing to give the Lady Aggies a 79-77 lead with a minute to play in overtime. Seconds later, A&T’s guard Renee Porter hit a free throw to end the scoring.
The Lady Rattlers were able to mount a second half comeback with intense defense. In turn, the Lady Aggies only made 11-of-26 shots from the field (42 percent) and made 43 percent on their shots for the game.
“We tried to slow the tempo of the game down in the second half,” Clark said. “We had to pick them up at full court and that helped slow them down.”
On the other hand, the Lady Rattlers went 15-of-27 from the field in the second half, but shot only 43 percent for the entire game.
In the face of a loss, the Lady Rattlers realize this is not the time to hang their heads.
“When you play games like this and you lose close ones you can’t dwell on it,” Towns said. ” You need to realize that you must take the positives from one game and let that carry over into the next game.”
Senior forward Quidara Russell had 17 points and 11 rebounds and freshman guard Q’Vaundra Curry chipped in with 10 points.
Lady Aggies coach Saudia Roundtree was thankful her team escaped with a victory.
“We beat a very good team tonight,” said Roundtree, whose team improved to 3-12 overall, 2-4 MEAC. “I think this game is a character builder for us, let our kids know to never give up. We just believe.”
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