Despite a striking comeback down the stretch, the Rattler basketball team (8-20, 6-8 MEAC) stumbled 74-59 against the Hampton Pirates (10-18, 6-8 MEAC) Saturday night in the Al Lawson Center.
The Rattlers’ performance lacked intensity during the first half, which allowed the Pirates to extend their lead to double digits. The Pirates shot the ball efficiently during the first half, while the Rattlers struggled from the field. FAMU shot only 30 percent from the field and were 3-of-14 from beyond the arc.
The Pirates shot 45 percent from the field and 54 percent from three-point range. They entered halftime leading the Rattlers 45-26.
“It was a very difficult game,” head coach Clemon Johnson said. “In the first half we came out with no energy and they were shooting lights out.”
The Rattlers improved defensively during the second half. The Rattlers switched to help defense to slow down the Pirates. Their effort yielded results, as the Pirates were held to 37 percent shooting from the field and one three-pointer.
“We all came out with good defensive energy,” Reggie Lewis said. “We were getting beat a lot in the first half on penetration. In the second half, they couldn’t beat us. It was like a wall. We played good team defense.”
With 15:31 remaining in the game, the Rattlers began a 14-0 run. Amin Stevens capped the run with a two-handed dunk over two Pirate defenders. The Rattlers’ run lasted five minutes and it brought the score to 51-50.
But the lack of stamina hindered the Rattlers’ scoring run down the stretch. FAMU relied on its bench afterward, but the move was ineffective. The Pirates would pull away once again.
“I felt that we could get back into game,” Johnson said. “We caught up faster than I thought we would and, unfortunately, with all the energy we exerted to get to that, we tried to reach to the bench and it just didn’t work for us. We were not able to maintain the run and then they were able to take off again. We had nothing left in our tank to finish the game at that point.”
Hampton’s Darrion Pellum was the game’s leading scorer with 22 points.
Stevens led the Rattlers with 13 points and 14 rebounds for a double-double. Lewis added 12 points, while Yannick Crowder chipped in 10 points and led the team with three blocks.
The Rattlers shot 46 percent from the field during the second half.
In the first of two games leading to the 2012 MEAC tournament in Winston Salem, N.C., FAMU will face Norfolk State at 7:30 tonight in the Al Lawson Center.