Going into the opening round game of the 2007 NCAA Tournament, Niagara University felt disrespected for being selected to the play-in game versus Florida A&M University, adding to the fire of the 11-game winning streak they were riding coming into the game.
The Purple Eagles took that frustration out on the Rattlers yesterday night by defeating FAMU 77-69.
Going into the game, Niagara had the advantage with eight days off compared to the Rattlers two, which both days were used for traveling.
Niagara overmatched the Rattlers on the boards and executed many second-chance opportunities on the offensive end, crushing the Chicago homecoming for six Rattlers and head coach Mike Gillespie Sr. all while ending the potential match-up with No. 1 seed University of Kansas.
Despite four Rattlers scoring in double figures, senior forward Cliff Brown’s six threes and 32 points were too much for the Rattlers
Fatigue, poor free throw shooting and defensive breakdowns led to the demise of the Rattlers.
Despite being down throughout the game, FAMU battled and matched every run as the Purple Eagles threatened to run away with the game in the first half cutting the lead to 34-31 at the break.
Niagara continued to knock down open shots and create turnovers in the second half as FAMU couldn’t overcome the Purple Eagle’s aggressiveness
The Rattler basketball has nothing to be ashamed of with the team making its third appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1999 and amassing a 20-win season.
They should hold their heads up high for the successful season.
After finishing the MEAC regular season in second place and four games behind Delaware State University, FAMU was able to storm through the MEAC tournament avenging two regular season losses to Hampton University by stumping the Pirates 61-58 in the quarterfinals, the Rattlers’ semifinals victory over the Aggies of North Carolina A&T 74-66 put FAMU in the finals versus the regular season MEAC champion Delaware State.
In dramatic fashion, the Rattlers captured the MEAC by executing a perfect inbound play where senior forward Greene sunk a layup at the buzzer, which was featured No. 1 on the “Sports Center” top ten plays of the day.
Compared to the 2004 team, led by sharpshooter Terrance Woods, this year’s team featured a more gallant effort from the front and backcourt.
During the season, it seemed a different player’s name was being called every night whether it was Greene, L.C. Robinson, Jon Mason, Glover or 2007 All-MEAC first team player Sanders.
Next season the Rattlers will return a strong backcourt as they try to improve.
Maybe some of the basketball team’s magic can rub off on the baseball team. Just a thought!