Lady Rattlers open season tonight in tourney

The women’s basketball team begins action today at 6 p.m. in the annual Rattlerette Invitational. FAMU plays its first game against Savannah State, a team they just played in Savannah, Ga., Nov. 28.

Savannah State is now 1-5 after losing to Birmingham-Southern and Bethune-Cookman. The other team competing in the tournament is Jackson State, which FAMU plays at 4 p.m. Sunday.

Last year the Lady Rattlers fell to the Tigers in the tournament but say they are prepared to prove themselves this year. “We owe them,” said senior guard Yolanda Dixon. “They beat us in our own tournament last year so it’s time to get them.”

Clark said the team has been watching tapes of Jackson State and has seen the good players it has inside so FAMU knows what to focus on.

In the first matchup between FAMU and Savannah State, the Lady Rattlers were victorious 62-52.

“We’re looking to improve on our performance from the Savannah State game,” Clark said. “We did not play well at all so we’re just trying to improve from that.”

Leading the team in that game were junior guard Tene Miller and JUCO transfer Quidara Russell. Miller, a veteran of the FAMU basketball program had 17 points, four assists and five steals during her 32 minutes of play. Russell contributed 13 points and 12 rebounds.

Russell came to the FAMU women’s basketball program this year after playing for the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. She has played an integral part in each of the team’s games thus far, putting up quality numbers both in points and rebounds.

“She’s a big help in the post,” said senior guard Yolanda Dixon. “We lost our post player from last year, so I think she’s doing a good job for us.”

After traveling to Georgia, the team took on the University of South Carolina Nov. 29. Coming off the bench, Candace Crawford led the team with 16 points. Also contributing was Dierdre Tyus with eight rebounds, three assists and 10 points.

“I think we played better against South Carolina than Savannah State,” Clark said. “Even though on the scoreboard we lost, South Carolina is a much better team than Savannah State.”

After this tournament, the Lady Rattlers will have a long break because their next game is not until Jan. 3 at Coppin State College. Until then, the team plans to continue working hard in each practice to prepare itself for the next game.

“We’re just trying to get better each game and each practice,” Clark said. “This game (against Savannah State) will be a good gauge to determine how we’ve improved.”

Dominque Drake can be reached at