Wins lift player morale

The Florida A&M University Rattlers hosted the Howard University Bison Saturday in Gaither Gymnasium. Both teams desperately needed a win, however it was the Rattlers who were able to walk away with a 79-74 victory in overtime, breaking a three game losing streak.

The Rattlers trailed the Bison in the first half and well into the second. With less than six minutes left freshman guard, David Buchanan hit a clutch three pointer to give the Rattlers a 48-47 lead. It was short lived and by the end of regulation both teams were tied 61-61.

During overtime, Buchanan continued to display his shooting ability as he scoring 14 more points, to include three keys 3-pointers, ending the game with 17 points. Strong offensive rebounding and great ball control on each possession allowed the Rattlers to end the game 79-74.

The Rattlers are now 1-1 in the MEAC and 3-10 overall, with their next opponent being the Hampton University Pirates on Jan. 12.

On the other side of the court, Florida A&M University’s Lady Rattlers made an early statement in Saturday’s basketball game when they got off to a 10-0 start in their 69-53 victory over Howard University’s Lady Bison.

According to senior point guard Taniyah Dawson, with two starting players out, the Rattler’s game plan was to fill in where the starters usually contributed and get the win.

Senior point guard Deidra Jones led the Rattlers with 15 points followed by freshman Temeka McKelton who had 13 points and four rebounds.

For the Lady Bison, guard Lonice Kenley was the high scorer with 17 points. Going into halftime, the Rattlers led 37-19 and the second half was just as lopsided.

“During halftime Coach Gibson basically told us not to get big-headed, come out hard again second half and not to give the other team any chance,” said Kenley.

The Lady Rattlers did just that showing just as much hustle in the second half as they did in the beginning of the game.

With the victory over the Bison, the Lady Rattlers improved their season record (6-6) and 2-0 in the MEAC conference.

The Lady Rattlers are on a three game winning streak and look to push it to four when they host the Morgan State Lady Bears. Currently the Bears are 2-1 in the MEAC and 10-4 overall, while the Lady Rattlers sit at a 3-0 in the conference and 7-6 overall.

“Our game plan is to execute our offense, go hard every time we step on the court, out-rebound the other team and eliminate mental mistakes,” Dawson said.

Although the Rattlers have been hot for the past few games, Dawson said that won’t affect the intensity of their play.

“We go into the game not only to win, but basically run up the score, no matter who we play,” Dawson said.

The Rattler men go head to head with conference leading Morgan State Saturday, in Gaither Gymnasium, as well. The Bears come to town on a three game winning streak, having defeated ACC powerhouse Maryland, North Carolina A&T and most recently Norfolk State.

Florida A&M built momentum of its own having recently beaten both Howard and Hampton in thrilling overtime fashion. Coach Eugene Harris and his team are (3-1) at home and trail Morgan State by a single game in the MEAC standings.

Important to both teams will be their play in the backcourt and the ability of their big men to score points in the paint. Morgan State is led by 6 foot 4 guard Reggie Holmes, who is averaging 15 points per game and shooting 35 percent from beyond the three point line.

Rattler forward Lamar Twitty and his teammates do not let opposing teams dictate their style of play; neither do they seem worried by the stats of Holmes.

“I have the ability to play outside and inside with an all around game,” Twitty said. “We as a team like to put on a lot of pressure allowing us to gain the ball through turnovers.”

Keeping turnovers to a minimum will be important for both teams. The Rattlers are averaging 13 turnovers, and against a team like Morgan State that could be costly. On a positive note, the Rattlers are shooting nearly 40 percent from the field and averaging over 60 points per game, which is among the top five teams in the conference.

?If the past two home games are any indicator of what we can expect, then Saturday’s contest will definitely be one you don’t want to miss on both sides. Tipoff is scheduled for 7pm.