The Lady Eagles of North Carolina Central University played the roles of visitor and victor, defeating the Florida A&M Lady Rattlers on Saturday.
The Lady Eagles (6-8, 1-0 MEAC) came away with their first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference victory 71-64.
Led by the strong forward play of junior Racquel Davis and senior Tiffany Gary, who combined for 39 points and 22 rebounds, the Lady Eagles dominated the boards, 42-21.
After taking an 11-point lead to halftime, the Lady Rattlers (8-8, 1-2 MEAC) struggled to finish, much to the chagrin of head coach LeDawn Gibson.
“This is why the game doesn’t end at halftime,” Gibson said. “They did what they wanted and came away with the win. It was just a lack of effort for us.”
Graduate student Jasmine Grice led FAMU with 19 points and six rebounds.
Senior Kimberly Sparkman was the only other Lady Rattler to score in double figures with 12. Sparkman suffered a groin injury in the second half with just under nine minutes left to play. However, she said the injury didn’t cost the Lady Rattlers the game.
“My injury has nothing to do with the loss,” Sparkman said. “At the end of the day, we still have to play and finish games.”
The Lady Rattlers exhibited great defense to start the game with a 7-0 run. But the momentum was short-lived as the Lady Eagles stormed back with a seven-point flurry of their own.
After a timeout, the Lady Rattlers got back on track scoring the next nine consecutive shots.
In the first half, the Lady Rattlers’ defense forced 14 turnovers, including 10 steals. Along with the defensive prowess, the Lady Rattlers shot 53 percent from the field and 44 percent from 3-point range.
The Lady Eagles managed to stay in the game by making eight of nine free throws in the half.
After the break, the Lady Eagles forced the issue in the post to get back in the game, and junior center Ann Marie Harris noticed.
“It wasn’t that they were better than us, it was just they hustled more,” Harris said. “(Racquel) Davis played her game throughout, but especially in the second half.”
The Lady Eagles finally got their first lead with 6:15 left in the game and never looked back.
The Lady Rattlers will look to regroup at home Monday at 7 p.m. against North Carolina A&T University.