Coming off of a tough 1-3 road swing, the men’s basketball team will welcome its return to the floor of Gaither Gymnasium this weekend.
In their last game, the Rattlers suffered a 90-82 loss at the hands of the North Carolina A&T University Aggies. The loss dropped the Rattlers’ conference record to 8-5, leaving them in third place behind the Delaware State University Hornets (14-11, 11-2) and the Morgan State University Bears (10-13, 8-4). With two other teams sharing an 8-5 record in the conference, the Rattlers are looking to create some separation between themselves and the rest of the league. The Rattlers found success against MEAC-leading Hornets at home in late January, taking home a convincing 83-68 victory.
The Rattlers will look to continue their impressive home performances against the University of Maryland Eastern Shore on Saturday afternoon.
“The conference is wide open, and any team can be beaten on any given night,” senior center Rome Sanders said. “For us to have struggled on the road and still be in contention it feels really good.”
They struggled as they dropped three of their last four games, two of which came in overtime.
“We played four games against some very good teams,” head coach Mike Gillespie Sr. said of the team’s recent road trip.In Monday night’s loss, which was televised on ESPNU, the Rattlers started the game off slow, committing 19 turnovers.
They found themselves down 16 points in the first half.
Despite a valiant comeback attempt, behind 23 points from junior guard L.C. Robinson, the Rattlers still fell to the Aggies. Robinson hit seven three-pointers on his way to his team high.
“I just tried to be aggressive,” Robinson said. “I knew we needed some shots, so I kept going hard.”
Despite Robinson’s long-range accuracy, Gillespie said the stats could be misleading.
“I mean nothing against L.C., but he hit seven threes but missed 12 of them,” Gillespie said.
“If you shoot 19 threes in a game, you should have at least 23 points or more.”
Robinson said he felt that his performance was solid, but he realizes that he could have done better.
“Me and Coach G talked about it, and we both agreed that I could have had at least 40 points in that game,” Robinson said.Gillespie said it is important that the team limits turnovers in its upcoming match-up against the Hawks on Saturday.
“You can’t turn the ball over 19 times a game and expect to beat good teams,” Gillespie said.
Despite their recent troubles on the road, the Rattlers found some bright spots on the defensive end.
“We defended the ball pretty well, and we rebounded the ball,” Gillespie said. “Those were the two positives that we took away.”
The Rattler frontcourt struggled against A&T. Sanders had to contend with double and triple teams for most of the game.”I haven’t been getting that type of attention all year, so it threw me a little off guard,” Sanders said.
Saturday will be a rematch of a meeting with the Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks earlier this year when the Rattlers came away with a 65-55 victory.
Sanders said the team must avoid falling into a trap game at home.
“They don’t have a really good record in the conference, and a lot of times those teams are the most dangerous,” Sanders said. “We know they are going to come out more fired up to beat us.”The teams will square off Saturday at 4 p.m. in Gaither Gymnasium.