A one-point loss to a conference rival during a season hurts for the losing team, and it’s relatively common among any conference in college basketball. But two one-point losses to a conference rival during a season is next to unheard of.
The Florida A&M University Lady Rattlers loss to the Howard University Lady Bison 49-48 on Saturday, and ironically, it was the second time that Howard slid past Florida A&M with a one-point victory this season.
The Lady Rattlers (15-9 overall, 7-6 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) wanted to avenge a 69-68 loss they suffered to the Lady Bison on Jan. 23, but fell short. The first game was a hard-fought overtime loss on the Lady Bison’s home floor in Washington, D.C.
Florida A&M began the game on Saturday with a 2-3 zone defense that the Lady Bison (13-12 overall, 8-5 in the MEAC) had a hard time breaking. Lady Rattlers’ head coach LeDawn Gibson implemented the zone defense to try to keep the Lady Bison from attacking the paint.
“We started with a 2-3 match-up zone, and it was to stop the inside,” Gibson said. “I think we did a halfway descent job with the 2-3. It’s hard to rebound out of a zone and when (Quiana) Donald got in foul trouble, they outrebounded us.”
Florida A&M also took a major hit when junior forward Christian Rateree went down with 11:14 left to go in the first half. Rateree re-aggravated her bruised knee when she was going after a loose ball, but she was able to return in the second half.
The Lady Rattlers went into the locker room up two points at halftime, 26-24, and they applied the same pressure in the second half that they did in the first. Sophomore guard Tameka McKelton scored on a layup with 15:32 left in the second half that put Florida A&M up by nine points before things went sour.
Sophomore forward Antonia Bennett said the team played too quickly in the second half and tried to do too much.
“We were up and we took some bad shots without paying attention to the clock,” Bennett said. “We were trying to hurry up and score, which we shouldn’t have done because we had the upper hand.”
The lead changed several times late in the second half, but a three-pointer made by freshman guard Tamoria Holmes with 34 seconds remaining gave the Lady Bison a 49-48 lead, and a victory.
“It’s like on any given night, when they come out and want to do it and play FAMU basketball, nobody can beat us,” Gibson said. “But tonight we beat ourselves.”
Howard outrebounded Florida A&M 49-40, and also had fewer turnovers (13-11). Freshman forward Saadia Doyle led the Lady Bison with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Bennett posted a double-double as well for the Lady Rattlers 10 points and 11 rebounds.
The Lady Rattlers will turn around and play the Hampton University Pirates (14-11 overall, 9-4 in the MEAC) on Monday at 5:30 p.m. in the Al Lawson Center.