The second half of Monday’s contest against the South Carolina State Bulldogs was not kind to the Florida A&M men’s basketball team.
The game saw a nine-point halftime deficit turn into a 90-75 loss for the team at the Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center.
Amin Stevens, the Rattlers’ leading scorer and rebounder, said the dynamic of the two halves was on the shoulders of the team’s defense.
“In the first half it was close. Second half, they pulled away because our man-to-man defense was sub-par,” Stevens said.
Brandon Riley led the Bulldogs (6-15, 2-6 in the MEAC) with 22 points. He was one of the catalysts for ending the six-game downward spiral the team was on prior to facing the Rattlers. The bulldogs ended with five players in double figures.
Stevens credited SCST with effective offensive efforts, but believes the defense of the team could have changed the tide of the game.
“Their big men were scoring easy inside,” Stevens said. “Our outside men were losing their assignments, leaving them wide open for some good shots.”
The Rattlers (7-14, 2-6 in the MEAC) were paced in scoring by Stevens, who split the duties with freshman guard, Avery Moore. Both players ended the game with 19 points.
“It took some of the load off of me,” Stevens said. “Avery has led the team in scoring a few times, so him having a big game isn’t new to us, but we still lost the game. That’s what’s important.”
The optimism of the unit has yet to fall, as the message for the Rattlers remains clear in the eyes of Stevens.
“Keep our heads up and move forward with the six conference games we have left,” Stevens said. We want to get in better position for the tournament,”
The team ended the night shooting 44 percent, 36 percent from three point range.
Defensively the Rattlers allowed 56 percent shooting from the floor 38 percent from behind the arc.
FAMU will return to action as they will host Morgan State, ranked third in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, on Saturday, Feb. 5 at the Lawson Center at 6 p.m.