The No. 2 offense in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference went up against the Morgan State University Lady Bears (13-8, 7-2 in the MEAC) and failed to click the way it usually does, falling in overtime, 63-54.
The game highlighted an issue for the Lady Rattlers: The team struggles when it has to look outside its two main scorers for production.
The MEAC’s leading scorer, Tameka McKelton, only scored two points in the first half, 10 for the game, and the the Lady Rattlers had to rely on their inside game for production. The switch in strategy left the team cold in the first half and struggling to come back in the second.
Mckelton and senior guard Antonia Bennett, the No. 3 leading scorer in the MEAC, combined for 22 points against the Lady Bears, well below their combined season average of 33.4 points per game.
“We didn’t have a guard that wanted to step up and take the pressure off of those two,” said head coach LeDawn Gibson. “(Jasmin) Grice got hit in the nose and then we just lost her and then we put Christian Rateree out there to shoot but she wouldn’t shoot it either. I don’t know where their mind was honestly.”
Gibson said the guards weren’t moving enough in the first half for the bigs to get them the ball anyway.
“I think we were just too stagnant,” she said. “We weren’t cutting. We weren’t moving.”
The team struggled to find a consistent outside threat without big points from its two leading scorers.
Gibson said the team came out of the gate flat. The Lady Rattlers put together an offense in the second half thanks to production from bigs Qiana Donald (15 points) and Shekeira Copeland (eight points).
“That’s how it should be,” Bennett said. “It shouldn’t just be two dominant scorers. Hit the open person. We need more than two scorers anyway.”
The team also struggled from the free throw line. Down 51-50 with 2.5 seconds left, Bennett split a pair of free throws, sending a game she could have won into overtime.
“When (Bennett) got fouled I just knew she was going to win it,” Gibson said. “She missed the first one and then just took us into overtime. I was excited she made the second one but she could have sealed it and she didn’t.”
Bennett’s missed free throw was one of nine the Lady Rattlers missed.
“We just couldn’t put the ball in,” Donald said. “No excuses. Now we just have to go and practice and practice more free throws, get more shots up.”
McKelton has turned in just one performance with at least 20 points and his only led the team in scoring twice in the last seven games.