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Two losses by a total of two points. I am not sure which is the stronger emotion, Howard’s happiness or Florida A&M’s annoyance.
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the home stretch.
Four games left in the season, all conference games, two against teams ahead of them in the conference. The setup is there for the Lady Rattlers to finish the season with a high seed in the conference tournament, but mistake-free basketball will be a key. Closing out every game will be the most important factor in closing ou the season strong.
Standing in the way of a strong finish are the Hampton University Lady Pirates. The Pirates are ranked fourth in the conference standings and they already dealt the Lady Rattlers a loss to the tune of 67-54.
Three minutes till tip off.
Trying to rouse your team by putting starters on the bench and giving younger players a chance to shine is one of the oldest tricks in the book. The only regular face out there is Deidra Jones’. This strategy has the potential to seriously backfire, especially considering three of these new starters did not play when the Lady Pirates handled the Lady Rattlers Jan. 25.
Case in point. (see below)
0-9 Hampton, 16:25 left in the half.
Enter special agents 003 (Tameka McKelton) and 0015 (Qiana Donald). Deidra Jones now has a little experience to work with and the team is capable of scoring again.
3-12 FAMU, 15:36 left in the half.
Enter Antonia Bennet. The whole “bench the starters” thing just looks like a bad idea now. Especially since it dug the Lady Rattlers into such a deep hole. The defensive intensity is up now that Donald is leading the team, and for the most part the ladies are under much more control.
That said, the Lady Pirates are giving these girls fits. Quanneisha Perry is a nightmare in the middle, stopping drives and putting up points. She currently has four.
4-18 Hampton, 13:04 left in the half.
Sorry for the delay folks. Server went down. Plenty has happened since the last update too.
For starters, the starters are back in full force. At one point they even managed to cut the lead to nine. On the down side, the play is still extremely sloppy. Turnovers, mostly traveling calls, have ruined just about every run the team has tryed to put together.
There’s also a little terror on the court in the form of Jericka Jenkins. The 5-3 guard is running circles around injured guard Deidra Jones, and speed specialist Jaya Houston can’t stay in the game due to foul trouble. Jenkins has eight points right now and coach Gibson is running out of reserve guards to throw at her.
This brings me to my next point: The inability for the Lady Rattlers to stay on the court. I do not think there is a single player wearing orange and green that does not have at least two fouls. Christian Rateree is also slightly shaken after taking an elbow to face.
Halftime 21-36 Hampton, stats coming soon.
Two fouls for Houston, Donald and Gaines. The main threat to Perry and the only two players capable of matching Jenkins’ speed. Right now Gaines and Donald are back on the court but they are playing noticably softer on defense.
Notice I put the “on defense” tag there. Donald is still as mean as ever on offense.
23-38 Hampton with 18:35 left in the game.
20 points down. The Lady Rattlers look lost and confused, committing fouls out of anger and turning the ball over at a reckless pace. The first half was bad enough (16 turnovers) and this is really just more of the same.
25-45 Hampton with 15:37 left in the game.
I’m starting to think the the possesions are taking too long for the Lady Rattlers. There is a lot of dribbling and not enough shooting. The team is 20 points down with less than 15 minutes to go and they’re still shooting pretty badly. Plus they’re trading baskets with Hampton.
Gaines also picked up her fourth foul about five minutes ago.
30-51 Hampton with 12:25 left in the game.
Frustration always starts to set in during big losses. Donald managed to pick up a technical after a quick scuffle on the floor. This is not just a loss though. This is total domination by the Lady Pirates. Physically and mentally, the Lady Pirates are giving the superior performance.
Prime example. Four missed layups in a row by the Lady Rattlers took about 30 seconds off the clock. One three by the Lady Pirates took about eight seconds.
31-54 Hampton with 9:16 left in the game.
The old saying, “Everybody gets a run,” does not apply here. The Lady Pirates got their nice eight-point spurts but the Lady Rattlers failed to establish anything outside a four-point run. The team was unable to score in bunches like Hampton was, and it suffered for it.
34-56 Hampton with 6:44 left in the game.
1:41 left, stay tuned for the final score.