Florida A&M (7-20 overall, 4-10 in the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference) tried to carry its momentum from Saturday’s 72-67 win over conference rival Howard University (7-22 overall, 6-8 in the MEAC). However, the Rattlers lost the battle of the boards Monday night against Hampton University 70-61 (9-17 overall 6-8 in the MEAC).
“Hampton was just a better basketball team than us, they wanted it more than us,” said head coach Eugene Harris. “We started well in the game, but for some reason we let up.”
Letting up is exactly what the Rattlers did, as the Pirates out rebounded the Rattlers 40-25 and picked up some key rebounds down the stretch of the second half. Coming into the contest, the Pirates had forwards Charles Funches and Michael Freeman, both whom are two of the top five rebounders in the MEAC conference.
Freeman, averaging 7.4 rebounds per game this season, controlled the glass with 11 rebounds respectively and Funches contributed 8 boards as well. The duo combined for nearly half of the Pirates offensive and defensive boards, pulling down 19 of the Pirates 40 total rebounds.
“The basketball game was lost because we did not rebound the basketball,” Harris said. “You cannot win a basketball game when you’re out rebounded 15 times.”
Harris also said after Monday’s loss, the Rattlers’ were going back to the drawing board to re-evaluate their rebounding strategy.
“Once I look at the film, I’ll be able to see why we were out rebounded,” Harris said. “But there’s a key element in it, you’ve got to put your body on people.”
Despite having two back to back stellar performances, freshmen forward Amin Stevens said that the Rattlers desperately needed to make some adjustments going into Saturday’s contest against Winston–Salem State University (11-15).
“Coach summed it all up,” Stevens said. “We got out rebounded and had too many turnovers in the second half.”
Although the Rattlers will be traveling to Winston-Salem, N.C., Saturday with a loss, the players want to correct the rebounding void that prevented them from establishing back-to-back wins in league play for the second time this season.
“We have to be more relentless on the offensive and defensive boards,” said Yannick Crowder, a sophomore center. “We have to start reacting faster and go hard after everything.”
The Rattlers will once again have to compete against the Rams in Winston-Salem, NC on Saturday at 4 p.m. During their previous contest, the Rattlers defeated the Rams 75-69 on Jan. 30 in the AL Lawson Center.