The men’s basketball team tipped of its home opener Thursday night against the Stetson University Hatters.
Right from the tip-off, both teams’ defenses were aggressive. The offenses were evenly matched. The score was tied at 16 late in the in the first half, and the Rattler offense kept pounding the ball inside.
Senior guard Jamie Adams was already 3-4 inside and 1-1 outside. Adams heated from beyond the arc and finished the half with 6-8 field goals with 4-5 from the 3-point line. He had 19 points in the half. The Rattlers ended the quarter on a 16-5 run, making the score 32 to 23 at the half.
The Hatters would not go down easy. They fought hard on both sides of the court, constantly chipping away the lead. The Rattlers were able to keep a manageable lead until late in the second half when the lead was cut to five with a little more than six minutes to play. The score was 53-48.
The Hatter offense came to life late in half with multiple runs until the score was 59-57 with 1:40 left. The Rattlers committed a late foul, which resulted in a three-point play that tied game at 60 with less than 90 seconds.
Head coach Clemon Johnson said his plan was to get the ball to Adams, who was in double coverage.
Senior guard Reggie Lewis saw this and recognized his defenders tight coverage. He attempted a three-pointer and was able to draw the foul. He managed to make all three free throws.
The score was 63-60 with 2.3 secs left, and the Rattlers were able to force a turnover and win the nail bitter 63-60 over the Hatters.
Johnson said he knew his team could compete with Stetson. He was especially pleased with his team’s composure late in the game.
“The defense got slack,” Johnson said. “They kind of caught us off guard,”
Senior guard Reggie Lewis scored 14 points and was satisfied with the victory, but said he was upset that his team gave up a 14-point lead.
“We really didn’t want it to come down to a last second shot,” Lewis said. “We blew a lead that shouldn’t have been blown.”
Adams shot 7 for 10 and finished with 23 points. Adams said he is the type of player that heats up quickly, but he said they double-teamed him in the second half.
“Reggie told me not force it, just be a decoy, ‘I got you from here,’ ” Adams said. “Reggie brought us home.”
The Rattlers win over the Hatters makes them 1-2 so far season. They will travel to The University of Toledo to take on the Rockets Monday at 7 p.m.