Rattlers defeat Royals 88-61 in home opener

The Florida A&M University Rattlers (1-1, 0-0) may have defeated the Warner Southern College Royals 88-61 in their home opener on Tuesday night, but FAMU head coach Mike Gillespie Sr. was not pleased with his team’s performance.

“I’m not satisfied,” Gillespie said. “We need to play a lot better in every aspect.”

The Rattlers came out energized against a Division II Warner Southern team, and after they jumped out to a 12-2 lead early in the first half, they never looked back.

The Rattlers showcased a stingy defense throughout the game, as they held Warner Southern to 39 percent shooting on the night. But Gillespie said the team gambled too much and got out of the defensive strategy.

“I think our guys got excited because they saw that the team wasn’t good handling the ball,” Gillespie said. “Then they started playing to get steals instead of playing within our scheme.”

The Rattlers did manage to force many of the Royals 22 turnovers, 13 of which came in the first half.

“Early on, our point guards didn’t take enough control of the game. We had 13 turnovers early in the game, and that hurt us,” said Warner Southern head coach Sean Hanrahaan.

Center Rome Sanders led the Rattlers with 22 points on 8 of 11 shooting. The senior from Chicago scored 16 points with 7 of 9 shooting in the first half.

Senior guard Brian Greene had a double-double for the Rattlers with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Also, Greene added 5 steals.

After a 93-54 loss to Maryland on Sunday, Gillespie said his team played better in the loss than they did in their first home victory of the season.

“We are always looking for that perfect game,” Gillespie said. “And not to say anything bad about Warner Southern, but even though we lost by 35 points to Maryland, I think we played better there.”

Gillespie did find some positives from the game, but said his team has to get better as they prepare to play tougher opponents.

“We have Miami Ohio coming up,” he said. “Teams like Bradley, Illinois, the University of Illinois at Chicago are very good teams. I think we can play to their level, but we have to improve.”

The Rattlers will head to Oxford, Ohio on Friday for their match up against Miami University.