Displaying a historic performance, the Lady Rattlers basketball team (20-7, 13-2 MEAC) stunned the Norfolk State Spartans (10-16, 5-10 MEAC) with an 81-64 victory Monday night in the Alfred Lawson Center.
The victory led Florida A&M to its first 20-win season in over a decade.
The Lady Rattlers appeared to be still recovering from its loss to Hampton Saturday during the first half, as they started the game slowly. Neither team was able to maintain a lead for long, as the matchup experienced 10 ties and 12 lead changes.
“We came out slow the first half,” said Antonia Bennett. “We don’t play defense like that and we just needed a spark somewhere.”
Norfolk State capitalized on the Lady Rattlers’ sloppy first-half defense, as it grabbed several rebounds and scored on many turnovers.
“It’s like the team was in a daze,” said Head coach LeDawn Gibson. “Our defensive rotation wasn’t there and it was like we were a step slower than everyone else.”
Norfolk State entered halftime with a 32-29 advantage. Rae Corbo led the Spartans with 12 points.
“At halftime, I just told them that it was up to them how we finished this game and this season. This game was no time to relax, but an opportunity to regain focus going into the tournament,” Gibson said.
Jasmine Grice displayed a dominant performance, leading the Lady Rattlers with 23 points and 71 percent shooting from three-point range (5-of-7).
“I am pleased with jasmine when she steps on the court, she defends and can score,” said Gibson.
Antonia Bennett supported with 21 points, five assists and eight rebounds. Tameka McKelton would score two from three-point range for a total of 15 points. Kimberly Sparkman secured 16 points and three assists. She connected on four shots from three-point range.
The Lady rattlers shot 84.6 percent of its free throws during the second half, which led to a big lead over Norfolk State. On the game, FAMU shot 41 percent from the field (28-of-67), 42 percent from three-point range and 86 percent from the charity stripe.
The Spartans gave up 21 points on turnovers. The Spartans were also outperformed on the bench by a 29 to 17 margin. They finished the game shooting 34.8 percent from the field (23-of-66), 40 percent from three-point range (2-of-5) and 86 percent from the free-throw line (16-of-21).
The Lady Rattlers will conclude their season Thursday against the Morgan State Lady Bears in the Alfred Lawson Center. Tipoff is at 5:30 p.m.