Low play quality overshadows victory

Offensive missteps were not enough to keep the Rattlers from defeating the Norfolk State University Spartans 58-47 Monday night in the Al Lawson Center to improve to 9-4. The victory, however, was overshadowed by turnovers and an injury to guard Christian Rateree.

“Sloppy” was the word of choice for players and head coach LeDawn Gibson. 18 turnovers led to 18 points for the Spartans. The Rattlers shot 37 percent from the field. The free throw shooting improved, but only when compared to the last game. As a team the Rattlers shot 58 percent from the free throw line.

“We’re a much better team than what we showed tonight,” Gibson said. “I think the entire game was sloppy. I think we played down. I just need to come back and regroup.”

Fundamental problems kept the Rattlers from victory against the North Carolina A&T Lady Aggies. Eight turnovers in the last six minutes of Saturday night’s game and 38 percent free throw shooting kept a five point game out of reach, despite a double-double from forward Qiana Donald. Four players also scored in double figures.

Monday night saw essentially more of the same, only with a win to cap off the night instead of a loss. Eight turnovers in the first half against six assists and 20 percent from the free throw line overshadowed a 29-22 lead.

The second half gave the Rattlers and opportunity to clamp down defensively, however the offense had troubles keeping the ball in their own hands. Despite building a lead that at times was as high as 16 points, 10 turnovers kept the Spartans in the game.

“I feel like we didn’t come out and play our game,” guard Tameka McKelton said. McKelton had eight points on 3-13 shooting. “We let the level of the team we were playing contradict what we were supposed to come out and do.”

With 2:04 left remaining in the game Christian Rateree collided with a Norfolk State player. After an attempt to get up and make it off the court, she had to be assisted off and into the locker room. Rateree left the game with 13 points on 5-13 shooting, but also had six turnovers.

“We’re praying on (Christian’s injury) right now,” Gibson said. “We can’t sustain another injury.”

Injuries have kept starters, including senior Deidra Jones from performing at maximum capacity. Jones was limited to 17 minutes but still contributed seven points.

Forward Antonia Bennet led all scorers with 15 points and also contributed nine rebounds and two blocks. Guard Lashonda Gaines was held to only four points and ended the game with four fouls.

“I think this game was like a wake up call, that we’re not as good as we think we are,” said Gaines. “We just have to keep working. Keep our intensity up and play 40 minutes.”

Intensity will be the key in the Rattlers’ next contest against University of Maryland-Eastern Shore. The Hawks are currently 3-7, but are undefeated in conference play at 2-0. The Rattlers are determined to play at a higher level against sub .500 teams.