The largest crowd of the season packed the Al Lawson Center Thursday night as Florida A&M University's (FAMU) men’s basketball team (8-24, 7-9) hosted the Bethune Cookman University's (BCU) Wildcats (18-13, 12-4) in their season finale, but fell short 89-77.
The Rattlers was on a season-best, three-game winning streak coming into the game. On the other hand, the Wildcats entered the game in a five-way tie for first place in the conference.
The fierce contest between the rivals was a high scoring shootout. Early in the first half, the Rattlers led by seven. BCU then capitalized off FAMU mistakes and went into halftime up 43- 31.
Senior guard Marcus Barham spoke about the effort of the team in the first half.
“Our flow in the first half was steady, we wanted to stay afloat because we realized that a lot of our shots were not dropping,” said Barham. “Personally, going into halftime my thoughts were to just do anything to help us win.”
The Rattlers, led by Barham and senior guard Elijah Mayes, pulled within two points 60- 58 at the 10 and-a-half minute mark.
Down the stretch FAMU struck but every time they went on a run, BCU started one of their own, capitalizing and hitting an array of shots.
“We didn’t lock in on defense and that ultimately hurt us. We can’t expect to score and not stop them from scoring, but still somehow come back,” said senior guard Desmond Williams.
The Wildcats was too much to handle throughout the night as they outscored FAMU 42- 18 in the paint. The Wildcats Isaiah Bailey sealed the victory with a steal and a fast break score late, pushing the lead to double figures with three minutes left in the game.
The Wildcats were on fire from the field as they finished the game shooting 57 percent from the field, while FAMU finished at 38 percent.
Marcus Barham led the Rattlers with 28 points, while Elijah Mayes contributed with 25 points.
Desmond Williams, FAMU leading scorer had a tough night shooting 3 of 18 from the field and finishing with eight points.
Soufiyane Diakite led BCU with 27 points and 14 rebounds. He was perfect from the field (13 of 13) and the foul line (1 of 1).
After the game, FAMU head coach Robert McCullum expressed his thoughts on the growth of the team.
“Marcus and Desmond have been pretty steady throughout the year. And then the main and direct effect has been the improvement of Mayes and Justin Ravenel,” said McCullum.
“The last game before Christmas Ravenel was averaging 3 points a game and shooting 25 percent overall, prior to Monday night he was shooting 45 percent.”
Next, the Rattlers will take on the Howard Bison Tuesday at 4 p.m. in the first round of the MEAC tournament at the Norfolk Scope Arena.
Junior forward, Nicholas Severado making a move against rival Bethune Cookman on Thursday night.