The Florida A&M Rattlers men’s basketball edged out the Eagles of North Carolina Central University (NCCU), Saturday 65-62.
Before Saturday nights win, the Rattlers lost four in a row in devastating fashion. Losing to Maryland Eastern University by one, and Howard University by two, just two days prior.
For the Rattlers, Marcus Barham and Desmond Williams have lead the team in several statistical categories throughout the season and Saturday was no different. Senior guard Marcus Barham posted 20 points and notched three 3-pointers in the Rattler win. Junior forward Desmond Williams contributed 21 points along with 8 rebounds to help the Rattlers close out the Eagles. Williams who had been injured, commented on playing through pain to help his team secure a victory.
“The game will go on regardless of whether I play or do not play. If I can walk, if I can run I’m going to play, because I want to be out there with my teammates, and everyone, and get the win. I mean I played, and helped my team win, so I’d do it again.”
While the Rattlers only shot 43 percent on the night, their 10 points from the free throw line (10-12) contributed crucial points that ultimately decided the game. On a night where the bench was almost non-existent the team relied on other starters to pick up the slack. Guards Elijah Mayes and Justin Ravenal combined to score 20 points for a Rattler offense that has struggled as of late.
Though NCCU was a favorite to win the game by any estimate, it was the fight and poise that the Rattlers possessed that allowed them to seal the win.
Rattlers head coach Robert McCullum expressed his satisfaction with his team’s efforts after the game.
“I am extremely proud of our team. The way they fought each time North Carolina would come back, and eventually in the second half I think they went up a couple of times. We never lost our poise, never lost our confidence, we regained the lead and kept it. We just fought.”
The Rattlers are a dismal (5-22) on the season,though have the chance to continue to improve heading into the MEAC tournament. After knocking off the second ranked Eagles the Rattlers will face another tremendous test against the Morgan State Bears Monday night.
Morgan State hasn’t lived up to their pre-season conference championship predictions but are still a highly competitive and talented team. In order to pull off another upset, the Rattlers will need to improve their defense while containing guard Tiwian Kendley, who is currently averaging 25.9 points per game for the Bears.
Offensively, the Rattlers will need the big-time production of scoring leaders Desmond Williams and Marcus Barham. In addition, the team will need to find a way to get into a groove on offense as they have only shot 41 percent as a team from the field this season.
Tip off will be at 8 p.m. for the Rattler men at Al Lawson Gymnasium, where the Rattlers are 4-2. Morgan state has struggled on the road (2-13), giving the Rattlers another reason to believe they will walk away with another MEAC upset.