With help from its freshmen, the Florida A&M University Lady Rattlers basketball team won its opening game 86-61 against the St. Leo University Lions Friday at Gaither Gym.
Freshman forward Secrett Anderson led FAMU with 17 points. Freshman forward Kirsten Stallings and sophomore guard Deidra Jones paced the team with five rebounds each.
Lions junior forward Marquita Fenn led her team with 13 points. Amanda Holloway, a junior guard, also chipped in with 10 points for the Lions. But their effort was not enough to pull the Lions to the top.
The Lady Rattlers took the lead early in the first half and never looked back.
Most of the Lion’s problems came from turnovers that the Lady Rattlers converted into 26 points.
St. Leo head coach Chanita Olds, a former FAMU assistant coach from 1999 to 2000, said although this game ended in a loss, she saw potential in her players.
Olds said the team needs to improve its defensive rotations and patience on the offensive end.
She said she was pleased with her player’s determination throughout the game.
“I’m proud of their effort,” Olds said. “I saw a lot of leadership on the court. They were on the bench coaching each other.”
Anderson, who finished with 4 fouls, scored 7 points in the 7 minutes she played in the first half. In the second half, Anderson scored 10 points in 10 minutes.
Much of FAMU’s success came from the team’s collective effort. Lady Rattlers’ head coach Debra Clark said she was pleased with the performance.
“I didn’t think we would be as sharp as we were,” Clark said. “The intensity I thought was good. The chemistry. They played like a team. They supported each other. Those things were really encouraging.”
Some of the Lady Rattlers’ starting post players were out for the game against the Lions. Clark said sophomore forward Denise Tate will be out until next semester and the status of senior center Ifeoma Onuaku will be known this week after her shin is examined.
Clark started two freshmen in the game to replace the two injured post players. She said she was happy with the play of her newcomers.
“I expected them to be a little bit more nervous, maybe not as sharp. But they went out there and played like they’ve been here all along,” she said.
Junior guard Q’Vaunda Curry and sophomore guard Deidra Jones both contributed with 15 points each.
Curry said she was excited that everyone contributed to the outcome. She was also impressed by the poise of the Lady Rattlers’ freshman class.
“I expect really big things from the freshmen. Before the game, I expected them to play well, but they played really well. So they can’t really drop off now that we see what they can do,” Curry said. “They are going to have to contribute just as much as the upperclassmen when they can.”
Anderson said she felt good about the game.
“I really wasn’t that nervous because I’m confident in myself. I guess I just knew I had to go out there and do what I needed to do,” Anderson said.
With a solid group of freshmen and upperclassmen, the Lady Rattlers are looking to have a successful season. Curry said fans should “expect big things” this year.