After suffering a tough loss at the hands of South Carolina State, the Rattlers of Florida A&M University bounced back on Monday afternoon, by defeating North Carolina Central University 66-57.
Early on in the game, FAMU set the tone defensively, as they held NCCU to just 17 points in the first half. FAMU Head coach Robert McCullum thinks this is a tribute to how focused his team was before the game.
“Our guys were quiet before the game, quieter than we expected, but yet I think that is a reflection of how zoned in they were,” McCullum said.
With Senior FAMU guard Nasir Core leading the Rattlers in scoring with 17 points, Coach McCullum seemed to be more content on what Core was able to bring on the defensive side of the ball.
“I’m so proud of Nasir (Core), he was the (primary) defender on their best player Jibri Blount who came into this game averaging 24 (points) and 12 (rebounds) for MEAC (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) games, so to hold him to 12 (points) and 8 (rebounds), that had a whole lot to do with how well we played,” McCullum stated.
Although Core was able to hold Blount to 41% shooting from the field and lead the team in scoring, Core shared the same sentiment as his head coach.
“Even though I had 17 points, I feel like the highlight of my game was holding their best player to 12 points because I take my matchup every game individually (and) I like a personal battle so that’s my most proud moment,” Core stated.
Also, Senior guard Rod Melton Jr. chipped in 17 points, while shooting 50% from 3-point range. Melton attributed his shooting success to his teammates passing to him when he was open, and the hard work he puts in at the gym.
“When they were playing zone, I was in the corner most of the time (and) my teammates did a great job of finding me in the corner,” Melton Jr. said.
“I’m also in the gym a lot, so if I put up a lot of shots, I can make a lot of shots,” Melton Jr. added.
Even though FAMU only played seven guys throughout the season thus far, the Rattlers played with more energy than NCCU. The Rattlers caused 17 turnovers, which led to 17 points leaning in the Rattlers favor. Also while it may be considered dirty work to some, the Rattlers showed a sense of relentlessness throughout the game, as they pulled down 19 offensive rebounds, which led to 19 second-chance points.
McCullum also spoke briefly about his team’s hustle after the game.
“We talk about getting more 50-50 balls, balls that can go either way and more often than not we haven’t gotten our share but the games that we’ve played really well, we do get our share and so today those 19 offensive boards, it doesn’t get much better than that,” McCullum stated. “We were also quicker to the loose balls, so that is a testimony to our guys hustle and awareness,” McCullum added.
The Rattlers have now improved their record to (5-12, 3-3 MEAC) on the season and will look to get another win this upcoming Saturday against Howard University. The game will begin at 4 p.m.