Florida A&M women's basketball kicked off the Rattler-Wildcat double header early Saturday afternoon in front of a crowd of 3,100 attendees at the Al Lawson Center.
The Lady Rattlers lost to the Wildcats three times last year. Head coach LaDawn Gibson said that it was a focal point in the pre-game talk.
“Our pre-game talk was that ‘you do not lose to a team that beat you three times in a row,’” she said. “The girls came out and you can tell they were hungry for the game and they were hungry all week for practice and they just came out and did what they needed to do.”
Both teams traded blows in the first half with momentum going back and forth. The Lady Rattlers shot a good 45.8 percent from the field and 50 percent from the three point line.
The story of the game was the amount of turnovers. B-CU finished with nine in the first half and FAMU finished with 11 and the trend would carry over into the second half as both finished with 20 each. Gibson said that it is an issue they must fix soon.
"We gotta take care of the ball better, we have to get that together before going into conference.”
The second half started off slow for both teams but the Rattlers slowly gained control. Senior forward Olivia Antilla sparked the 8-4 run with two three pointers forcing the Wildcats to call a timeout. She finished with 13 points and four rebounds.
Senior guard Khadejra Young had a slow start in the first half but started to get in her groove late in the third, contributing six points and a buzzer beating layup to end the quarter. Rattlers went into the fourth quarter with a 41-36 lead.
Young continued to be a factor on offense and defense with her scoring and rebounding. Her late-game surge gave the Rattlers a boost and definite momentum toward the end of the game. After only having one point in the first half, Young ended the game with 14 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
“She’s very important, I got on her at halftime because she was not looking to score, she was just looking to facilitate and play defense and I was telling her that we need her to score,” she said. “I told her that she needed to come out aggressive in the second half and she did that and prevailed.”
B-CU came out in the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run to take a 42-41 lead. Center Kailyn Williams for the Wildcats controlled the paint on offense and finished with 22 points and nine rebounds.
The wildcats made a comeback attempt with 1:40 left on the clock but it wasn't enough. The Rattlers defeated the Wildcats 53-48.
Gibson said that she was happy with the win and the play of her team after the first half.
“Just excited about the win, great crowd and great atmosphere,” she said. “The young ladies came out in the second half relentless, refusing to lose the game and I thought we played together better as a team in the second half.”
The Lady Rattlers will have a week to prepare for their Feb. 27 home matchup against North Carolina A&T University at 4 p.m.