The Florida A&M men’s basketball team (5-9, 4-3 MEAc) endured a disappointing afternoon in the Al Lawson Center on Sunday. The Rattlers fell short against North Carolina A&T ( 9-10, 5-1 MEAC), 70-63, ending their 12-game home winning streak.
After dominating against the Aggies on Saturday, 71-57, the Rattlers were unable to carry that same momentum into their last home game of the season. Head coach Robert McCollum thinks there was a shift in his team’s energy Sunday.
“ We didn’t play with the same degree of energy that we played with yesterday. I was concerned during the first three to four minutes of the game. I sensed mistakes I didn’t like, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to fix those things right away, ” McCollum said.
The Rattlers we’re unable to get their offense going and struggled to defend the Aggies. NCAT kept up a fast-moving pace on both offense and defense, leading 20-8 with 11 minutes left in the first quarter.
Freshman guard Jalen Spears hit a much-needed three-pointer for FAMU after a 6-0 run, bringing the score to 26-11. Evins Desir kept the offense going, following up with a layup. Desir led the way for the Rattlers, scoring 18 points along with five rebounds and two assists.
Desir said Sunday’s loss was very emotional. “ I’ve been here for two years and I haven’t lost one home game here. It sucks, but we have a game on Thursday, so we’re going to bounce back, take a day off and we’re back on Tuesday.”
The biggest challenges the Rattlers faced Sunday were rebounding and turnovers. The Rattlers ended the game with a total of 30 rebounds to the Aggies’ 45. Failing to protect the ball, NCAT forced the Rattlers into 22 turnovers.
FAMU trailed by 13 points at the half, but they came out in the second with more liveliness.
Senior guard Kamron Reaves opened the second half with a three-point jumper, putting the Rattlers down 10 points, 35-25. However, the 10 point margin didn’t last long. The Aggies answered back with a 9-0, run making the score 44-25.
Senior forward DJ Jones believes FAMU needed to be more patient.
“We have to know when to pass, who to pass the ball to, and be aggressive. It’s just one of those games, next game we have to pick it up, ” Jones said.
Many players described Sunday’s loss as a reality check. The Rattlers will get a chance to redeem themselves in a three-game series against South Carolina State. The series will begin on Thursday. The first game will tip-off at 7 p.m. in the S-H-M Memorial Center.