Basketball is finally back in Gaither Gym as the Lady Rattlers hosted the Lady Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast University in Saturday’s season-opening exhibition game.
The outcome, however, did not turn out as the Lady Rattlers had hoped for as, on the strength of solid shooting and 12 three-point shots, the Lady Eagles pulled away with a 76-64 victory.
“We weren’t as sharp as we needed to be,” said head coach Debra Clark of the game. “Our team this year is extremely young, but really talented,” Clark said.
Experience did in fact, serve as a great challenge for the young team, whose 13-player roster only includes two seniors and one junior. The four freshman players in the game showed great promise for the season, combining for 33 of the team’s 64 point total, including the game’s leading scorer Stephanie Foster, who finished with 19 points.
“I think we’re going to fit in really well,” said freshman forward Denise Tate, who finished with four points and led the team with 10 rebounds. This game proved to be a bit of an ice-breaker for the freshmen players as not only was this their first taste of college competition, but also their first time playing in a real contest with many of their teammates. “It’s a tough transition to make,” said Tate of the change from high school to college ball. “Physically it’s all the same, but mentally it’s a lot tougher.”
In the game, the Lady Rattlers found themselves attempting to play catch-up as the Lady Eagles took an early lead and never looked back. While the statistics show that the Lady Rattlers were nearly even, if not better in nearly every category, the Lady Eagles’ 12 three-point connections to the Lady Rattlers’ three proved to be the difference. Nine of the Lady Eagles’ three’s also came in the first half of play as they led the game 43-30 at the half.
“We got off to a great start,” said Lady Eagles head coach Karl Smesko. “They’re a young team, well coached. I see them looking forward to improving and looking forward to success as the season goes on.”
Upper-class leadership also proved to be a factor in the game’s outcome as the Lady Eagles’ three top scorers who finished in double-digits were two seniors and a junior.
The Lady Rattlers are confident that team chemistry and experience will come as the season progresses, but agree that that was not the only problem in Saturday’s performance. “We have to execute and be an all-around team. It comes from playing together and learning each others’ strengths and weaknesses.” said sophomore forward LaKeisha Alexander.
“We’re missing lay-ups and too many high-percentage shots,” agreed Coach Clark. “We need to get back to practice and work on our concentration and execution of plays.”
The Lady Rattlers will not dwell on this loss as they look forward to their regular season debut in Orlando at the Golden Knights Tournament. The team will challenge the University of Central Florida, Friday Nov. 18. Then the University of Texas San Antonio, Saturday Nov. 19
The Lady Rattlers will officially open up at home against Savannah State University Wednesday, Nov. 23, at 5:30 p.m., in Gaither Gymnasium.
Contact Reginald Snowden at email@example.com