The Florida A&M University Rattlers took on the Florida International University Golden Panthers in the team’s regular season home opener.
The Rattlers lost the game 56-61 as both teams came into the game with something to prove and thirsty for a win. The Rattlers (0-9) were looking for their first win of the year, while the Panthers (3-7), coached by NBA hall of famer Isiah Thomas, were seeking their first road win.
Florida A&M came into the game averaging 17 3-point attempts per game and they continued the trend at the start of the match up.
The Rattlers started the game with back-to-back 3-point attempts by sophomore guard Dale Hughes. Hughes made his first attempt and missed on the second. Florida A&M kept shooting from long range and they seldom took shots in the paint.
Junior guard Rasheem Jenkins, who normally is not a three-point threat, made three shots from beyond the three-point line and had a team-high 12 points for the Rattlers. Hughes also had 12 points for the Rattlers, and all of his points came from beyond the arc; he made four of his 12 three-point attempts.
Both teams had a hard time holding on to the ball, and neither team was able to get out in the open court and run. In the first half, the Rattlers committed 11 turnovers, while the Panthers turned the ball over 10 times.
Turnovers have been the Achilles heel for the Rattlers all season; they came into tonight’s game averaging 20 turnovers on just 11 assists as a team.
Sophomore forward Yannick Crowder played with a sling on his shoulder but still came out aggressively. Crowder had a total of nine rebounds and three blocked shots in the first half alone. Crowder ended the game with game-highs in rebounding, with 14; as well as blocks, with five.
The game picked up tremendously in the second half, and both teams cut down on their turnovers drastically. Coach Thomas was able to have his team adjust and they came out in the second half playing a different brand of ball.
“I just wanted to win the basketball game,” Thomas said. “Some nights you have to play small, and some nights you have to play big.”
The tempo for both teams was sped up in the second half, but coach Thomas still expects his team to play with control, and he wanted his team to relax and stay poised.
“A fast break doesn’t always have to be fast,” Thomas said.
The Rattlers’ head coach was obviously upset with the loss, but he still commended FIU and he felt that turnovers cost the team the game.
“I tip my hat to FIU, they outplayed us, we had too many turnovers and we’ve got to improve in practice,” Harris said.
Harris is looking forward to the first conference game against Bethune-Cookman.
“We start conference play on Saturday and you want to start out winning on the road,” Harris said.