Before the largest home crowd of the season, the Florida A&M men’s basketball team trounced Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference rival Bethune-Cookman University in a 68-62 victory Saturday night in the Al Lawson Center.
In their win, the Rattlers (6-16, 4-4 MEAC) avenged an early season loss to the Wildcats (9-13, 6-2). Senior Chris Watson paced the Rattlers, scoring 18 points off the bench, including a stretch where he scored 15 consecutive points in the second half.
Watson said that once he started feeling good he got into a rhythm.
“After I hit that first one, coach ran a couple more plays for me. I hit the second one and then I hit the third one after that,” Watson said.
The Rattlers were able to enter the run after trailing at halftime 28-27. Senior Yannick Crowder broke a scoreless streak with a dunk at the beginning of the second half just before Watson’s run.
The teams alternated baskets until a Watson three-pointer made the score 46-42. After a missed basket, the Rattlers raced down in transition capped by a three-pointer from sophomore Avery Moore for a 49-42 lead.
The Wildcats countered with a 12-5 run to tie the game at 54. However, Wildcats guard Stanley Elliot fouled out, and the Rattlers took the lead for good following a three pointer by freshman D’Andre Bullard.
Crowder capped the game with a block in the final seconds leading to a dunk by junior Amin Stevens on the other end.
Stevens added 13 points overall. Crowder said that they just wanted to disrupt the opportunities the Wildcats had on offense.
“We were trying to defend all the shots they took,” said Crowder, who scored 12 points and grabbed 13. “Sometimes we were able to make big plays on defense and we tried to capitalize on them.”
The Rattlers started the game keeping the Wildcats scoreless for the first five minutes. Both teams struggled making shots early, but the Rattlers rebounded, shooting over 50 percent in the second half.
Even with the victory, coach Clemon Johnson said that there are things that the team can still work on.
“We can’t be satisfied with just this win,” Johnson said. “We have to continue to grow at this point.”
With even bigger matchups approaching, Johnson said that the team could not get complacent.
“We will enjoy this one, take a couple of days off and then get ready for the next match,” he said. “This win does show that we can play with the teams in this conference.”
The Rattlers continue will continue their three-game home stand against North Carolina Central Saturday at 6 pm.