A season sweep of the Howard Bison was all the motivation that the Florida A&M University men’s basketball team needed when they took the floor on Saturday night in their first home game since Feb 1.
It took an extra five minutes in overtime to decide the outcome of the game, but the Rattlers cranked out a 72-67 win over the Bison and completed their first season sweep of a conference opponent this season.
The game was tied at 59 points apiece at the end of regulation, and junior guard Rasheem Jenkins said that the Rattlers (7-19 overall, 4-9 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) played smarter than the Bison (7-21 overall, 6-7 in the MEAC) and made more free throws when it mattered the most.
“Every team is going to make a run, everybody is going to miss a shot,” Jenkins said. “But the team that wins is the one that makes the stops, makes the free throws and makes fewer mistakes. Tonight we made fewer mistakes, we capitalized more and we made more free throws down the stretch.”
Jenkins spearheaded the Rattlers’ run in overtime, as he scored seven of his team-high 15 points during the extra session. Sophomore forward Yannick Crowder was blocking shots, grabbing rebounds and scoring points during overtime, and his efforts also helped secure the victory.
Crowder had 12 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in the win. He said he felt very confident throughout the game and he didn’t want to let his teammates down.
“I just told my teammates, ‘shoot the ball, I’m going to get the rebound if you miss,’ so my main focus was to get the offensive rebound and just make something happen,” Crowder said.
Problems with turnovers and trouble scoring the basketball has plagued the men’s team all year. The Rattlers won the turnover battle on Saturday, Florida A&M had 10, while Howard had 13.
The Rattlers’ head coach Eugene Harris understands how vital turnovers are for his team’s success, and on Saturday, he commended his guards for maintaining possession throughout the game.
“(Jenkins) played 32 minutes and didn’t have a turnover, that’s a plus,” Harris said.
Junior Forward Kyle Riley led the Bison in scoring with 15 points and Junior forward Adam Walker had 10 points with a game-high 14 rebounds.
The Rattlers’ next home game is on Monday against the Hampton University Pirates, tip off is at 7:30 p.m.