Lady Rattler’s basketball lose season opener

The Lady Rattlers started strong against the University of Central Florida Golden Knights Friday, Nov. 18, at UCF Arena.

FAMU jumped out to a 29-14 lead at the break. However, the Golden Knights fought back to defeat Florida A&M by a 62-54 margin. The Lady Rattlers opened the UCF Golden Knights Classic with an 11 – 0 run. UCF failed to register a bucket until 14:35 remained in the first half. Senior guard Shayla Smith put the Golden Knights on the board with a jumper. The game marked a difference of two halves for the Lady Rattlers.

The orange and green defense limited Central Florida to 17.2-percent (5-of-29) shooting in the first half. After the intermission, the Golden Knights shot 65.5-percent (19-of-29) the rest of the way.

FAMU held UCF scoreless from beyond the arc in the first half, as the Golden Knights bricked all five three-point attempts. In the second half, UCF connected on eight of nine three-point attempts.

The Lady Rattlers did not maintain the high energy level that carried them in the first half. Sophomore guard/forward Dawn Kindred said, “When we got back out, our intensity was down, as well as our communication.”

FAMU also struggled to regain their offensive rhythm. “Our chemistry, which served as a strong point, proved to be a second half weakness,” Kindred said. Lady Rattler freshman guard Deidra Jones poured in 17 points to lead all scorers. Freshman forward Denise Tate grabbed 10 rebounds to lead all players.

Saturday afternoon, the Lady Rattlers returned to UCF Arena. This time, FAMU (0-2, 0-0 MEAC) faced off against the University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners (2-0). UTSA defeated the Lady Rattlers 71-61 in their second contest of the weekend.

The orange and green opened the game with a 5-0 run. Newcomer Deidra Jones drained a pair of free throws and sophomore guard Q’Vaunda Curry connected from beyond the arc early.

The Roadrunners responded with 12 points of their own. Sophomore Dawn Kindred put the Lady Rattlers back on top with 10:12 remaining in the opening half. Kindred’s jumper gave FAMU a 15-14 lead. Unfortunately, the Roadrunners overtook the Lady Rattlers and would not relinquish the lead.

At the half, UTSA led by a margin of 37-27. The Roadrunners began the second half on fire. At one point, FAMU faced a 20-point deficit. Sophomore guard Evette Young pulled the Lady Rattlers within eight points. Young’s jumper made the score 67-59, with 3:03 to play. UTSA junior forward Vivian Ewalefo registered 22 points and nine rebounds, both game-highs.

The Lady Rattlers plan to build on their Orlando performance. Assistant coach Niki Washington said, “We had a lot of good signs early. UCF and UTSA were both really good teams.” Coach Washington added, “The girls played with a lot of heart and effort. We’re really encouraged by this weekend’s performance.”

The team will work to improve its consistency. Sophomore forward/center LaKeisha Alexander said, “We have to put two good halves together. We just have to learn from our mistakes.”

The Lady Rattlers return to the action this Wednesday, Nov. 23 in Gaither Gym. FAMU opens conference play against Savannah State at 7 p.m.

The UCF and UTSA athletic websites contributed to this report.

Contact John W. Marsh at