The Florida A&M University men’s basketball team fought until the very end, but came up short against the Howard University Bison 59-50, Saturday.
The Rattlers (0-19), (0-6) came out the gate strong with great shooting and passion, jumping out to a 5-0 lead. However, constant turnovers dwindled the team’s aggressiveness. The team struggled to hit from the perimeter, shooting below 30 percent behind the arc.
Howard’s (9-10), (3-2) defense played well, using a lot of zoning to keep the rattlers out of the paint.
Head coach Byron Samuels said his team fought hard, but they can be fragile in late game situations.
“I told them to doubt your doubts and kick your doubts’ rear ends,” Samuels said. “We’re playing well enough to win some games … [but] sometimes when uncertainty and doubts creep in, I encourage them to doubt it.”
Quentin Bastian, a senior forward, had 12 points, five rebounds and two assists. He said his teammates encourage him every day to be more aggressive.”
“First half I wasn’t as aggressive as I should have been, but I know the game is going to come,” Bastian said. “My teammates tell me to stop settling and when my turn comes, be ready.”
Points off turnovers were the key to the rattlers falling behind early. They were down 34-22 at halftime.
The second half led with the Rattlers trading baskets with the Bisons, cutting the lead down to six in the first six minutes of the second half.
FAMU’s game plan was to attack Howard’s concrete zone and dictate the pace of the contest. Although they had some success throughout the game, the team was not consistent with their penetration of the defense, forcing contested jump shots.
“They knew we were trying to take threes at that point and even when we penetrated,” Samuels said. “They collapsed pretty well. I thought we settled a little bit with threes.”
The team suffered through rigid stretches in the game where Howard was able to corral offensive rebounds back to back for second-chance points.
Junior guard Jermaine Ruttley said the team made adjustments in the second half to open up the lane for penetration to get to the free-throw line.
“We wanted to play harder with more effort than our last home game,” Ruttley said. “Going into the locker room we were telling each other we need get to the line more to be able to play inside out.”
The Rattlers will be back in action against Maryland-Eastern Shore (10-10, 3-2) on Monday, January 26 at 8 p.m. in the Al Lawson Center.