At the beginning of the season, the University’s men’s basketball team trumpeted its desire to bring a conference championship to Tallahassee. Instead it will have to settle for a second place spot and a flawless performance in the MEAC tournament.
The Rattlers’ hopes were dashed Saturday night as they fell to the Delaware State Hornets, 77-65.
The win gave the Hornets their third consecutive MEAC crown and kept the Rattlers at bay in second place in the conference.
“That was our goal at the beginning of the season, to take home the conference championship,” said senior center Rome Sanders, who posted a team high 26 points in Saturday night’s contest. “But obviously we can’t do that now, so we have to focus on the road ahead.”
Despite the loss, FAMU is now in the enviable position of determining its own destiny in the conference. Wins in the next two games left before the MEAC tournament against Coppin State University at home, and rival Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona would solidify their spot in second place. Sanders said the team has to look toward finishing the season off strong.
“With a second place finish, we can get a bye in the tournament,” Sanders said. “So we have to win these last two games.”
The Rattlers fell victim to the Hornets’ hot shooting, which is something they were able to stop early this season when they defeated the Hornets at home.
The Hornets went 12 of 24 from three-point land, and shot 53 percent in the first half.
“They played some of their best ball of the season,” Sanders said. “And we played average. But we still had a chance down the stretch.”
The Hornets played well enough to put five players in double figures with Roy Bright leading the way with 16 points.
They took their biggest lead of 17 points in the third quarter.
“They are the number one team in the conference, and they showed that,” Sanders said.
Despite one of the final two games being played away from home, the team is hoping they can count on seeing orange and green for the match-up in Daytona Beach. A bus full of Rattler faithfuls will head to south Florida to watch the Rattlers take on Bethune.
“Man when I heard that I got real excited,” Sanders said. “Last year we were there, it was like us against the world. Now that we know we are going to have some hometown support. I think everything will even out.”
Junior Guard L.C Robinson stressed that the team’s last two games will be crucial heading into the MEAC tournament.
“We can’t let up in these last two games,” Robinson said. “We have the chance to get on a nice roll before we play in the tournament, and that momentum can be big down the stretch.”Robinson said that the team must remain consistent in order reach the NCAA tournament.
“We have kind of played up and down all year,” he said. “There were somegames we thought we should have won, So now we have to play to our full potential every game.”
Senior forward Darius Glover said having a high seed in the tournament gives him an advantage he has yet to have as a Rattler.
“This is the first time I have had a seed this high, and that’s big,” Glover said.
Glover said the team is also confident they can compete in the NCAA eventhough they don’t have a player over 6 feet 8 inches.
“Size will not be factor because we have proven that we can play with teams like Pittsburgh and Illinois.”
The team will play Coppin State at Gaither Gym Wednesday.