Teams struggle on road, set to play conference opener

After going through a four-game losing streak with losses to Miami (Ohio), Illinois, Bradley and Illinois-Chicago, the Florida A&M University Rattlers (2-5, 0-0 MEAC) finally came away with a victory against Savannah State University in the final day of the Chicago Invitational.

The Rattlers headed to the Windy City during the Thanksgiving holiday looking to improve on a then 1-3 record, but failed to make waves early in the tournament.

The team has faced quality opponents all season, including a ranked Maryland team that handed FAMU its first loss of the season.

Despite finishing the tournament with a 2-5 record, senior Darius Glover said the scoreboards have not shown a complete picture of the team’s development.

“Actually, playing in the tournament gave us a lot of confidence,” said Glover, who tallied 19 points in the Rattlers’ win over the SSU Tigers last Saturday. “Now we know what we need to do to become a better team.”

One consistent force for the FAMU men’s basketball team has been the play of senior center Rome Sanders, who poured in 19 points to go along with 6 rebounds in the Rattlers lone tournament victory. Sanders has established himself as the lone low post threat on the team’s thin front line.

“My team depends on me on both the offensive side of the ball and defensively,” Sanders said. “We are so thin at the four and five spots, so I have to play a big role as our inside presence.”

Sanders said that the team is looking forward to a four-game home stand after its recent road trip

“We have been on the road for 10 days, in and out of hotels,” Sanders said. “But now we are headed back to Tallahassee where we can lay our heads in our own beds. We’ll finally be able to get some rest.”

The team will begin conference play Saturday at 4 p.m. at Gaither Gymnasium against Bethune-Cookman College.

The women’s basketball team also had a tough time playing away from the capital city. After a win in their season opener, the Lady Rattlers (1-4, 0-0 MEAC) struggled on their recent road swing. FAMU has endured a four-game skid including losses to Florida International, Quinnipiac, Wake Forest and East Carolina.

Guard Q’Vaunda Curry said Saturday’s contest against Bethune-Cookman would provide an opportunity for the orange and green to bounce back.

“B-CC is a must win,” Curry said. “It’s really not an option to lose.”

Curry said motivation would not be a concern as the squad opens its conference slate. “We’re going into it just as confident as if we’re coming off a four-win road trip,” he said.

Curry has helped pace the Lady Rattlers on the offensive end. The junior averages more than 14 points per game with a 40 percent mark from three-point land.

Junior guard Joslyne Jackson also shared the significance of the match-up.

“You always step up for the rival game,” Jackson said. “You’re always going to step up and do what you need to do to win.”

Jackson scored 14 points in FAMU’s loss to Wake Forest and is the third leading scorer behind Curry and sophomore guard Deidra Jones.

Members of head coach Debra Clark’s squad said they must play a complete game and work on execution. Curry said the team must box out and pursue loose balls to be successful. Taking care of small details will add up in the end, she said.

The FAMU Lady Rattlers and Bethune-Cookman Lady Wildcats will tip off at 2 p.m. Saturday at Gaither Gym.