Eagles take two at Gaither; Rattlers prepare for Aggies

The Lady Rattlers entered Gaither Gymnasium Jan. 9, on a four game winning streak and an undefeated home record. Coppin State University snatched this claim as they overwhelmed Florida A&M (6-7 overall, 2-2 MEAC) by a 52-34 margin. The Eagles (4-8 overall, 3-0 MEAC) remained undefeated in the MEAC in their quest to retain the conference title.

CSU limited the Lady Rattlers to 23 percent shooting on 13-of-56 shots. Despite the setback, FAMU looks forward to this weekend’s trip to the Carolinas to face North Carolina A&T. Head coach Debra Clark plans to address the team’s needs.

“We just have to refine what we’re doing. We just weren’t in sync offensively,” Clark said.

Assistant coach Niki Washington also looks to address the team’s shooting struggles.

“We just have to revamp offensively. We executed our plays, but we just couldn’t finish,” Washington said.

Sophomore guard Joslyne Jackson made her season debut with 9-points after missing the first dozen games with a knee injury.

“She was a real spark. She brings another dimension to the team both offensively and defensively,” Washington said.

Freshman guard Taniyah Dawson is not letting the loss keep her down.

“We just have to keep our heads up,” Dawson said. “We’re a very young team. We can be a lot better.”

Dawson said the Lady Rattlers plan to pick up their intensity, focus on free throws and improve their defensive rotations.

In the second half of the Monday double header, the men’s team also looked to protect home court. The Rattlers took the floor with a two game win streak and an unblemished home record as well.

Though the Coppin State Eagles (2-12, 2-1 MEAC) got off to a blazing start and led by 14 points at the half, FAMU (6-9, 2-2 MEAC) answered the challenge. The offense came alive in the second half, but the Rattlers still came up short in a 75-70 loss.

Senior forward Jonathan Kelly said the team did not panic after the quick Eagles start.

“We’ve been in this situation before,” Kelly said. “We fought back hard and showed a lot of character.”

Second half turnovers proved costly in the bid for a comeback. Although the Rattlers finished with only 10 turnovers, they committed seven of them in the second half.

The men’s team does not want to find themselves in an early hole this weekend. Senior guard Tony Tate stressed the importance of two solid halves of basketball.

“We have to come out ready to play. We got down early and you can’t do that against a good team,” Tate said.

Both Tate and Kelly agree that this is vital for them to win both games on their road trip. The Rattlers are looking for, as both stated, a “sweep – not a split” with the 0-12 North Carolina A&T Aggies and the 4-9 South Carolina State Bulldogs.

“We know A&T is real scrappy and they press a lot,” said junior center Rome Sanders. “If we can contain (South Carolina State’s) Brian (Mason) and Thurman (Zimmerman), we should be okay,” Sanders said.

The 6-foot-3 guard Mason and 6-foot-6 forward Zimmerman account for a majority of the Bulldogs’ offensive production.

Mason leads the team in scoring and rebounding with 15.8-points a game and 7.3 rebounds. Zimmerman, a preseason All-MEAC first team selection, averages 10.6-points and 6.9 rebounds.

Lately, the Aggies have fallen short in close games, losing their last two games to Delaware State and Maryland-Eastern Shore by a total of 6-points. But A&T, along with fellow MEAC contenders Morgan State, who has a 0-13 record, remain winless.

The Rattlers travel to North Carolina Saturday and South Carolina Monday. The teams return to Gaither Gym Jan. 21 at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. against Maryland Eastern Shore.

Contact John W. Marsh at thefamuansports@hotmail.com