Rattlers 79, Hawks 74

After a disappointing 86-62 road loss to South Carolina State, the Rattlers (7-11, 6-3) returned to Gaither Gymnasium Saturday to defeat the Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks (2-14, 2-7) 79-74.

After hitting one of their 15 three-point field goals to tie the game at 74, the Hawks were in the hunt to upset the Rattlers. The men’s free throw shooting put them over the edge as they knocked down five in the final 33 seconds to seal the victory. FAMU guard Demarcus Wilkins converted two free throws with 16 seconds to go, putting the team ahead for good 76-74, but he was not immune from the charity stripe woes that can plague great shooters, as he finished 7-12 from the line.

“I was leaving my free throws short and I wasn’t bending my knees,” Wilkins said about his early struggles from the freethrow line. “But I hit the last two that count.”

Wilkins finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.

UMES guard Tee Trotter had the hot hand early in the first half, scoring 15 of the Hawks’ first 24 points. Trotter ended the first half with 22 points, he shot 7-12 from behind the arc and scored a game-high 36 Rattler center Michael Harper, famous for his one-liners, summed up the attitude the Rattlers planned on bringing to the second half: “One guy ain’t getting a win on us.”

FAMU’s defensive intensity increased, putting more pressure on the Hawks. After shooting 47 percent from the field in the first half, UMES fell off to shoot 36 percent in the second half.

“I think we guarded everyone better in the second half,” head coach Mike Gillespie said.

“We contested, our body language changed and we did the things that we were capable of doing.”

FAMU guard Terrence Woods returned to his regular routine after putting up an uncharacteristic seven points against South Carolina State Monday night.

Woods finished with 25 points and hit 12 of his 14 free throws.

Trotter and Woods, who have a history with each other, got into a little trash-talking throughout the game.

“We do a lot of trash-talking,” said Woods. “Ever since I’ve been here, we’ve been getting into it.”

“Trotter had a great game,” Gillespie said. “You’ve got to give him credit.”

Harper, along with Rattler forward Michael Ayodele, stepped it up, acting as the much needed supporting cast that Wilkins and Woods need. Harper finished with 19 points while Ayodele chipped in seven.

“We had a better effort in the second half,” Gillespie said. “We’re going in the right direction if we keep up this intensity.”

The Rattlers will host Coppin State Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Gaither Gymnasium.

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Contact Lemont Lalloway at la_calloway@hotmail.com.