Rattlers back in running for MEAC

Finally vaulting over .500 in league play after a shaky conference start, the men’s basketball team still has a chance to finish in the upper division of the MEAC.

After a 73-61 victory Saturday over Norfolk State in front of 1,915 at Gaither Gym, the Rattlers improved to 5-13 and 5-4 in the MEAC.

The Rattlers had four players in double figures led by Jermaine Hill, who had 16 points and 9 rebounds. Norfolk State led for most of the first half and took a 32-31 lead into the locker room. FAMU was able to stay in the game by scoring 15 points off of 12 Spartan turnovers.

FAMU’s Michael Griffith’s three-pointer from the left corner created the game’s fourth tie at 34 all with 18:27 left in the game.

Hill gave the Rattlers the lead for good 37-35 after his three -point play on an assist from Sonny Tudeme. The 6-10 center handled a difficult pass by reaching to the floor to scoop up Tudeme’s feed, collected himself and converted.

Over the next four minutes , FAMU went on a 12-2 run, and stretched its lead to 49-37 with 12:08 left after Demarcus Wilkins’ stole a pass and fed Nicholaus Ross for a driving three- point play. The Spartans missed several point-blank layups and open three -pointers during the run.

” In basketball you gotta put the ball in the hole,” Norfolk State head coach Wil Jones said. “They’re (my team) killing me.”

Wilkins had a solid all-around game, finishing with 10 points, 7 assists, and 5 steals.

“We feel we can compete with any team in the MEAC,” Wilkins said.

Abdelkhadre Cisse’s spin and reverse layup along the baseline with 3:43 left off an assist from Wilkins gave FAMU its largest lead of the game at 65-49.

Hill capped the evening with a one- hand tomahawk off a Griffith pass with just over a minute left, bringing an already boisterous crowd to its feet.

“We worked hard and it paid off,” Hill said. ” Our goal is to finish in the top three spots going into the MEAC tournament.”

`After shooting 42% from the field in the first half, the Spartans shot only 22% in the second half. FAMU finished the game with 38 points in the paint and 31 points off of 20 Spartan turnovers.

” We stepped it up in the second half,” FAMU head Coach Mike Gillespie said. “We wore them down.”

Gillespie said that going into tonight’s game at conference leader Hampton , the team is excited and more confident. “We finally made a commitment to the way things should be done,” Gillespie said. “Everyone made a contribution.”