BALTIMORE – It took five extra minutes Saturday night, but the Rattlers outlasted the upstart Morgan State Bears, 87-79, in an overtime win at Hill Fieldhouse.
The win was vital for Florida A&M (11-11, 7-3), which coupled with Bethune-Cookman’s 63-62 stunner over Coppin State and Hampton’s 87-75 win over Maryland-Eastern Shore, settled into a three-way second place tie with Coppin and Hampton at 7-3, just two games behind first place Delaware State (9-1), which suffered its’ first loss Friday.
Meanwhile, the luckless Bears of Morgan State (1-19, 1-8) were a far cry from the team that was demolished in Tallahassee 75-42 on Jan. 7, grabbing a 29-27 halftime lead, after trailing FAMU by as much as seven points in the opening stanza.
In the second half, the two clubs went toe-to-toe, with four tie scores in the first 4:26 of the period, before Tony Tate led FAMU on a 10-6 run with seven points, to stake the Rattlers to a 49-42 lead with 11:50 left.
Joseph McLean cashed in a pair of three pointers for Morgan State however, pulling the Bears within four points, 57-53 with 7:18 left, but the Rattlers would run their lead back to seven points twice before the final 3:20 of regulation play.
A three-pointer by Marcus Gomes pulled the Bears within three points, 69-66 with 1:31 left. Rattler Rome Sanders’ slam dunk made it a five-point with 1:10 to go, but Morgan State got a three-pointer from Chris Warfield and a McLean basket to close to 72-71 with 34 seconds left.
Tony Tate cashed in a pair of free throws with 22 seconds left to give FAMU a 74-71 lead, but Gomes sent the game to overtime with a three pointer just seconds later, tying the score at 74-74.
FAMU, which has shown a tendency to be a second half team all season, finished the Bears with a 13-5 run in the overtime. The Rattlers hit four of their eight field goal and five of six foul shots, while Morgan went one for five from the field and missed all three of their three-point tries.
Sanders led FAMU with 27 points and 11 rebounds, followed by Tate with 22 points, six rebounds, four steals and two assists. Jonathan Kelly added seven rebounds and five points, with Glen Elliott scoring nine points, Lamar Twitty getting eight and Joe Ballard chipping in seven points Saturday.
McLean had 27 points for Morgan State, followed by Marcus Gomes with 13 points and Tyree Spinner with 12 points. Forward Tim Berkley had a team-high nine rebounds for the Bears.
The Rattlers will conclude their two-game trip to Baltimore Monday, as they take on Coppin State (8-13, 7-3), which is tied with Hampton (9-9, 7-3) for second place in the MEAC after Saturday’s games.
BALTIMORE – The Florida A&M Women’s Basketball team fell behind early and could not recover, as they dropped 75-48 to Morgan State at Hill Fieldhouse Saturday evening.
For Florida A&M (8-11, 4-6), the loss was their second straight and their fifth in the last seven games, keeping them pinned in seventh place in the MEAC standings, while Morgan State (3-15, 3-6) moved up to eighth place, just one-half game behind the Lady Rattlers.
Morgan State had the better shooting night, hitting 42.9 percent from the field (27 of 63) to FAMU’s 32.3 (21 of 65). MSU fared better from beyond the three-point line too, cashing in 45 percent (9 of 20) of their shots to 28.6 percent (4 of 14) for FAMU.
The Bears also held a slight edge on the boards, out rebounding FAMU, 45-41, and was solid from the charity stripe, hitting 85.7 percent (12 of 14) of their foul shots, including a nifty 11 of 12 in the second half. FAMU managed to get to the line just 10 times Saturday, making just two.
FAMU trailed 36-23 at the break, as Morgan State outgunned them from the floor (48.4 percent overall), highlighted by five three-pointers. The Lady Rattlers shot just 27 percent (10 of 37) from the field, while hitting three of 10 three-pointers.
The second half saw Morgan outpace FAMU, 39-25, as they went 11 of 12 from the foul line and hit four of eight from three-point range.
FAMU Rookie of the Year candidate, freshman guard Deidra Jones led with 18 points, two assists, two steals and two rebounds Saturday.
Q’Vaunda Curry added eight points, while the trio of Stephanie Foster, LaKeisha Alexander and Denise Tate each had six points. Tate also had 12 rebounds and Alexander added 11 boards for FAMU.
For Morgan State, Dominisha Britton led all scorers with 20 points and six rebounds. Whitney Johnson pumped in 17 points, followed by Sarissa Gaskins with 12 points and Britney Griffin with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Florida A&M’s Lady Rattlers closes their weekend in Baltimore Monday (5:30).