Rattlers win season opener 68-66

The Florida A&M men’s basketball team opened up their official season with a road victory over Cleveland State University Saturday evening, at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

Speaking to the media following the game, FAMU coach Mike Gillespie said, “We’re very happy to come in here tonight and get the win and I think they are a very well-coached and very athletic team.”

The Rattlers, now 1-0, emerged on top in a 68-66, lead-swapping thriller, on the heels of big performances by senior guard Tony Tate, who led all scorers with 25 points on the night. Opening up the season on a positive note, Tate also contributed seven rebounds, four assists and four steals on the night.

“It was a real good win for us to start off our season with,” said Tate. “My team wanted it bad so I had to step up as a vet and make clutch free throws.”

“Most certainly this was a disappointing loss for us,” said Cleveland State coach Mike Garland to the media. “I would be remiss and untruthful if I didn’t say that but I’m proud of the way our young men did make an effort to come back and put us back in a position to win the basketball game.”

For the Rattlers efficiency was key, as quality, not quantity, led the team to victory for the Rattlers who shot 46.9-percent from the field, to the Vikings’ 38.7-percent. Free throws were also key in this victory, as the Rattlers landed 17 of 22, Tate coming through with a 10 for 10, free throw effort.

Cleveland State, on the other hand, took a run-and-gun approach to things as they attempted a second highest in school history, 31 three-point attempts, while only landing 10.

“We weren’t patient enough. Sometimes teams play zone to trick you into taking the three. But we just had to be more patient,” Cleveland State guard Victor Morris said in a post-game interview.

In a contest that saw 13 lead changes, the Rattlers were nearly doubled in offensive rebounds, yet led the field of points in the paint by a margin of 28-18. They also controlled the pace of the contest making the Vikings play up to their speedy style of play, leading the contest in fast break points 9-0.

Also a major factor in the Rattlers’ victory was solid defensive play, which frustrated the Vikings’ offense by keeping them on the outside shooting in.

“We kind of changed how we played, we’ve been primarily a man-to-man team throughout my entire coaching career. There were some circumstances with our team this season where we felt it would be best to switch to zone,” said Gillespie.

Center Rome Sanders, usually a big inside threat, came away with a six-point, three-rebound performance.

“He’s been our leading scorer in everything we’ve done…tonight we didn’t execute as well in getting him the ball,” said Gillespie of is center.

The Rattlers look to carry their momentum into Bloomington, Indiana tonight as they take on national powerhouse University of Indiana.

Contact Reginald Snowden at thefamuansports@hotmail.com