The Rattlers’ five-game winning streak came to a screeching halt Saturday when they fell to Howard 70-66 at home.
FAMU’s men’s team is in third place in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), falling to 10-15 on the season and 7-3 in conference play.
The Rattlers came out of the gates quickly to build an early 11-0, but that didn’t stop the Bison from making a comeback of their own.
“Although we got out to an 11-0 lead to start the game, even there we (FAMU) lacked the defensive intensity and the defensive awareness that we’ve come to expect,” head coach Robert McCullum said. “Howard is one of the most explosive offensive teams in the conference, so we knew they were going to come back.”
While defense has been the Rattlers’ calling card this season, FAMU’s defense allowed RJ Cole to knock down six of the Bison’s 10 three-pointers (10-19 as a team). Cole finished the game with 20 points on 7 of 18 shooting from the field (6 of 10 from the three-point line) 4 rebounds, and 7 assists.
“He (Cole) is going to score points, there’s just no way around that because he scores against everyone,” McCullum said. “You’re not just going to shut him down, but you want to make him work harder to score his points and force someone else to beat you.”
FAMU had balanced scoring. Tracy Hector Jr.(14), Kamron Reaves (14), Justin Ravenel (11), and Isaiah Martin (12) all reached double digits in the points column, as Hector Jr. led the way with 14 points on 6 of 9 shooting from the field, to along with 6 rebounds.
Even with his efficient scoring from the field, Hector Jr., felt as though the team could’ve done more to pull out the win.
“I don’t look for my shots, I just let the game come to me,” Hector Jr. said. “As a team, we underestimated them (Howard) and we got out hustled,” he added.
With costly turnovers (17) and miscues down the stretch, the Rattlers constantly had to keep climbing out of a hole to get back into the game.
“It’s not like they (Howard) were pressuring us full court, a lot of it was just our impatience at times,” McCullum said.
As FAMU heads into its next game against Norfolk State, Ravenel believes the team needs to lock back in order to get back to winning basketball.
“We just have to lock in and remember how we got here and what it took,” Ravenel said. “We have to take it game by game now.”
With little time to digest this loss, FAMU will take on Norfolk State, the MEAC’s top team at 8-1, at home on Monday. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU at 7 pm.