Carver Bible College came within three points of spoiling the debut of new Rattler head coach Eugene Harris, as FAMU squeaked by the Cougars 86-83 Monday night in Gaither Gymnasium.
Going into the half leading 46-35, FAMU nearly blew a 16 point second half lead as Carver College used a full-court press to create turnovers to get back into the game.
The senior leadership of Akini Akini and guard L.C. Robinson carried FAMU to victory as Robinson converted key free throws down the stretch and Akini exposed the Cougars weakness in the paint scoring easy lay-ups.
FAMU outscored the Cougars 42-22 in the paint, dominating the first half with a full court press of their own as the Rattlers seemed to be cruising to an easy victory.
“In order to win basketball games you always have to make a presence in the paint,” Coach Harris said. “Our philosophy is to go inside first and then take the jump shot.”
Four Rattlers finished in double figures, led by Akini who had 18 points and 11 rebounds as Robinson contributed 13 points and 17 rebounds.
Junior Lamar Twitty added 14 points and 7 rebounds as FAMU’s bench outscored Carver’s 32-20.
Freshman forward Larry Jackson a Chattahoochee native, had 13 points and 7 rebounds in his first game as a Rattler.
Guard Joe Ballard was a perfect 4 for 4 from the field in the second half as he knifed his way through the Cougar defense continually beating his defender off the dribble.
Carver was overmatched by the quickness of the Rattlers’ backcourt.
In the first-half, FAMU lead 15-6 as Akini dunked after a Cougar turnover and an assist from Twitty.
FAMU’s biggest first half lead would be 15 point as Robinson hit a jumper right out of a timeout to bring the lead to 40-25.
“We really rushed the ball instead of being patient and look for the open person, everybody was rushing so they got a lot of steals and put backs,” Twitty said.
With just over four minutes remaining, the Rattlers held a 10-point lead of 75-65.
Carver closed the gap to five points on two Rattler turnovers with 2:39 left.
After two free throws by Cougar forward Jeremy Russell, FAMU led 76-75.
FAMU will travel to Madison, Wis. to for the American Youth Classic on Nov. 15-17.