Thrilling finishes have become all too common for the Rattlers. Monday night was no different.
With less than 30 seconds left in regulation and the Rattlers (7-14, 4-5 MEAC) up by two, senior guard Reggie Lewis made two free throws to help preserve the win against the Savannah State Tigers, 54-51.
Head coach Clemon Johnson was happy with the win but admitted his team needed to remain focused on the rest of the season.
“Stop playing down to the other teams in the division,” Johnson said. “This team is in the top five in the conference and we can play and win against the more elite teams in the conference.”
The game was close throughout with the largest lead being only eight points. But Lewis and senior guard Jamie Adams both hit some crucial 3-pointers during the Rattlers comeback in the second half.
Lewis, who scored his 1,000th point in the Rattlers’ last game, was brimming with confidence after the game.
“I took it with confidence and knocked it down,” Lewis said.
But the game wasn’t all offense. Both teams struggled, combining for 45 turnovers.
The Tigers (8-15, 6-3 MEAC) played a trapping defensive style, which forced the Rattlers to ratchet up their defensive intensity.
Junior forward Bobby King, who started in place of sophomore forward Trey Kellum, who was sidelined with an illness, played a good defensive game.
“Coach always tells us to be ready to play because you never know if you’ll have to fill in for one of your teammates,” said King, who finished with four blocks.
Johnson hinted that the pressure the Rattlers displayed on Monday may become a normal course of attack going ahead.
“Forcing turnovers is what we like to do,” Johnson said. “We have to play with this level of hustle and energy every game.”
The Rattlers will look to take their act on the road as they take on North Carolina A&T on Saturday.