While the undeniable talent of Florida A&M University’s women’s basketball team’s has allowed them to beat formidable SEC and Big Eastern Conference teams like USF, University of Florida, University of Alabama, and Alabama State, there have recently been a series of consistent mistakes that may cost the team what could potentially be a major conference win.
The Lady Rattlers are entering Saturday night’s game against the University of Maryland Eastern Shore with a 2-1 record in the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference and a 9-4 record overall. For the past couple of games, the team has been plagued with inaccuracies in their usual, consistently strong performance. Their weaknesses include low accuracy rates for free throw and outside shooting, high turnover rates, and overall low-scoring games.
Usual high scorers like Christian Rateree and Tameka McKelton, offensive powerhouses for the Lady Rattlers, did not shoot with their usual accuracy, particularly in their last game against Norfolk State. McKelton, who usually averages 13.3 points per game, only connected with 25 percent of her attempted shots from the field, while Rateree connected less than 50.
Also, with senior starter Deidra Jones just returning from an injury, and Christian Rateree potentially out of commission after suffering from a knee injury in the final minutes of Monday’s Norfolk State game, the team can little afford trivial mistakes.
Head coach LeDawn Gibson expressed her concern over Rateree’s injury, stating that the team “can’t afford another injury right now.”
However, UMES has a current record of 3-11, and seemingly suffers from the same inconsistencies, making only 44 percent of their field goal attempts in their last game against Winston Salem-State.
Forward April McBride serves as an offensive powerhouse, averaging 20 points per game in the past two games against Winston Salem-Sate and South Carolina State. McBride racked up 21 points, 2 assists, and 4 steals while only playing 27 minutes in the game.
Last year, the Lady Hawks beat the Lady Rattlers 45-38, with McBride stealing the spotlight with a game-high of 10 rebounds and 10 blocks.
Lady Rattler players to watch for Saturday’s upcoming game include strong offensive guard LaShonda Gaines, known for her game-high assists. Also keep an eye out for Qiana Donald, 6 foot sophomore guard who currently holds the record within the MEAC for rebounds.
This Saturday will be the showdown, showcasing if the team’s hard work to turn around and rectify their mistakes is enough to help them live up to the high expectations they have set for themselves.
“When we play our ball, nobody can stop us, and I think we just have to realize that,” said Donald, re-iterating the standard the Lady Rattlers hold themselves to, and hope to once again obtain.