Coming into Saturday’s matchup against the North Carolina Central Eagles, the Florida A&M men’s basketball team had won eight consecutive home games but left the Al Lawson Center with a 58-55 loss.
Leading the game 25-23 at halftime, fouls became the Achilles Heel for the Rattlers in the second half. North Carolina Central shot nineteen second half free throws to the Rattlers eight. Rattler’s head coach Eugene Harris was displeased with the outcome and said the free throw disparity ultimately lost his team a game.
“You can’t win a basketball game when you only go to the free throw line twelve times and the visiting team shoots 29 times,” Harris said.
The Eagles shot 18-29 from the free throw line including three clutch free throws by Landon Clement with 26 seconds remaining to give the Eagles a three-point lead.
“They won the basketball game from the foul line,” Harris added.
“This is probably one of the worst games I’ve ever been in since I’ve been at Florida A & M where we don’t go to the line,” Harris said.
North Carolina Central used a full court press to get the Rattlers into tough situations and also ran an up tempo offense that continued pressure on the Rattler defense.
“We knew they were gonna press us and they got under us when they did,” junior guard Brandon Hosely said. “We didn’t handle it enough to win the game.”
Defensively, the Rattlers held the Eagles to 41.9 percent shooting but committed 19 fouls.
“Coach prides us on our defense and we just weren’t doing that tonight. We weren’t keeping guys in front of us and we were fouling and not being aggressive,” Hosley said.
The Rattler offense turned the ball over 15 times, and ended the game with five assists.
Sophomore forward, Amin Stevens, led the Rattlers in scoring and rebounding with 23 points and 12 rebounds for his, team leading, seventh double double.
“Amin is doing everything we ask of him, we just need the guards to play a little better,” Harris said.
With the game on the line and a three-point deficit, Stevens tossed up an off balanced three-point attempt but was unable to convert.
“We set up the play for our shooters but it just didn’t go our way tonight and that’s disappointing,” Stevens said.
The Eagles were led in scoring by C.J. Wilkerson and Landon Clement with15 points a piece.