Men improve win streak to four

The men’s basketball team defeated Howard University 66-64 Monday night, in a classic tale of two halves.

The Rattlers improved to 5-10 overall and 4-2 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The win was the Rattlers fourth in a row, completing a perfect home stand that began Jan. 10.

“It was a role reversal of halves as far as shooting percentage is concerned,” said Rattler head coach Mike Gillespie.

But it didn’t look that way early on. The Bison came out on fire from the perimeter, scoring their first 12 points off three-pointers. Howard guard Louis Ford scored on a jumper with 15:26 to go in the first half to put the Rattlers behind 14-7.

Then the Rattlers began to dominate.

The men took the lead for good after junior center Michael Harper grabbed an offensive rebound and kicked it out to junior forward Michael Ayodele for a three-pointer with 10:53 remaining in the first half pushing the score to 16-14 in favor of the Rattlers. Ayodele finished the game with 11 points and 5 rebounds.

“I’m real confident with the ball in my hands. I hit some big shots,” Ayodele said. “But I made a lot of mistakes out there as well.”

With 10:16 left in the first half, the Rattlers went on a 23-5 run that began with two free throws by senior guard Moses White and ended with a lay-up by Harper. The Alpharetta, Ga. native’s basket put the Rattlers ahead 41-19 with 2:16 left in the half.

In the first period the Rattlers played like the conference champions they were projected to be, shooting 51.9 percent from the field and 82.4 percent on 14-17 shooting from the charity stripe.

The Rattlers were up 46-26 at the end of the first half and looked to be on their way to an easy win. Or so it seemed.

The Bison began the second half on a 17-2 run, shrinking the deficit to five points at 48-43. In just under a nine minute span the Rattlers went 1-13 from the field and committed four turnovers.

Howard employed a defense designed to slow down Senior guard Terrence Woods, the nation’s leading three-point shooter, and force others, like junior guard Tony Tate, to shoot.

“My shot felt like it was [going to] go down. It just didn’t.” Tate said.

“We came out sluggish.” Woods said. “We just had some miscommunications in the second half on offense,”

Gillespie put Monday’s game in perspective.

“The bottom line is we held on and got the win.”

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