Florida A&M University’s men’s basketball team picked up its first win of the season taking down North Carolina A&T University 57-50 at the Al Lawson Center.
FAMU (1-23, 1-10 MEAC) was streaking in the wrong direction, as they were the only winless team in college basketball.
This win was hard fought with players diving for loose balls, creating transition points off turnovers and great team defense against the Aggies’ top players. This aggressive play led to the Rattlers going on a 10-0 run.
Head coach Byron Samuels was pleased and humbled for his team’s first win of the season. He said he was proud of his team's effort and that he felt privileged to be leading his guys into battle on and off the court.
“I’m as proud to be with these group of guys as any group I have ever been with since 1988,” Samuels said. “They’re learning each and everyday, so I’m very proud to be associated with them. It is so easy to show up everyday when things are going your way, but when you continue to get knocked down you keep picking yourself up and they pick me up.”
One of the Rattlers' game plans was to get defensive stops and score in transition. The team had a difficult time in their half-court offense, as they stalled and had a few shot clock violations, against the Aggies 2-3 zone.
Jermaine Ruttley, FAMU’s 2015 All-MEAC candidate, started the game scoring 13 straight points in the first five minutes of the game. He shot the ball with tremendous confidence consistently hitting his perimeter jumps shot.
Ruttley expressed that he felt like a fast start would help propel the team to that elusive first victory.
“I thought going into the game I had to get off to good start and energize my team,” Ruttley said. “Luckily all my shots were going in and it helped out my team…it put pressure on Jorge to step up and do his part.”
FAMU went into the half with the lead 21-17. The Aggies would manage to make a run and tie the game up in the second half, but the Rattlers’ full court pressure stopped their momentum. The Rattlers struck their opponents over and over, attacking the basket relentlessly. In result, the Rattlers made 70 percent of their free throws putting the Aggies into foul trouble late in the game.
The coaches and players were joined on the court by fans, alumni and even Al Lawson himself. The team’s effort and fight keeps their supporters coming back, even though they were winless, to cheer them on to victory. One of those proud supporters was FAMU President Elmira Mangum.
Magnum was relieved that the school is no longer the only winless team in all of college basketball, and was proud of the communal support that Rattler nation showed to help the team get the victory.
“I’m so excited it was wonderful to be in here tonight to see the Rattlers win,” Mangum said. “The crowd is going to come, the Marching '100' is here, the cheerleaders are here and the people that love the Rattlers are out here tonight…[so] the ‘win-watch’ is over. We won and it’s exciting, and it’s fun. This is how it should be every night.”
FAMU hopes to build on this momentum, and hopefully earn a second victory as it takes on North Carolina Central University Monday February 16, 2015 in the Al Lawson Center at 8:00 p.m.