The Rattlers defeated the Hornets with a score of 69-58.
The Rattlers had an abundance of energy at the start of the game and took a solid defensive approach starting the first half.
They forced the Hornets into contested shots, running them off the line and extending their catches. Throughout the beginning of the first half, the Rattlers struggled to find their rhythm offensively, making careless turnovers and small mistakes.
Coach McCullum knows the team struggled early offensively.
“We were disappointed with our ten turnovers in the first half,” McCullum said. “The way the Rattlers swarmed to the ball and worked as one unit gave the Hornets problems.”
Slowly but surely, the Rattlers turned it around midway through the first half. The defense created momentum on the offensive side, and Jordan Tillmon helped fire the team up.
Tillmon created space for his teammates and even knocked down a couple of shots.
Towards the end of the first half, the Rattlers returned offensively, making careless turnovers and small mistakes. Luckily, the tight defense was the engine to hold off the Hornets, holding onto their 34-28 lead going into the half.
Coming out in the third quarter, the Rattlers showcased the same energy, attacking offensively with a lay-up by Noah Meren.
Meren spoke about the offensive struggles and his mindset going into the second half.
“I am going to forget about the first half, learn from my mistakes and come out aggressive,” Meren said. “I know my team needed me to do that and trust my teammates.”
With that offensive effort starting, it became a trickle effect, and many other players began to get involved. The Rattlers opened the second half with an 11-6 run, and the defensive engine was still rolling.
Jaylen Bates showed his defensive skills, anchoring in both halves. Bates was crashing the glass hard, blocking shots, and dominating the offensive end. Bates led the team with three blocks and two steals.
Coach McCullum raved about the team’s defensive effect.
“I thought the defense tonight set the tone, and I would give it an A,” McCullum said.
With about ten minutes remaining in the second half, the Rattlers were leading 54-40.
As time started to run out, the Yellow Jackets made small runs to stay in it. With about two remaining, the rattlers were up 62-55, and the Hornets brought out their full-court pressure to create turnovers, but the rattlers remained calm and took care of the ball, ultimately leaving Al Lawson with a win!
The rattlers finished the game with four double-digit scorers—Bates, Meren and Tillmon with 15 points and Hantz Louis-Jeune with 14.
Despite how the season has been, McCullum was satisfied with the team’s performance tonight and expressed his emotion about the win.
“Without question, this is our most complete game of the year,” McCullum said. “Well, I’m extremely happy for our guys and proud. Not only the way they fought and won the game, but just how they handled the slow start we got off to.”
The Rattlers plan to carry their winning performance into their next game against Texas Southern University this Saturday, Feb. 4!