Rattlers end six game skid, 62-60

Florida A&M Men’s basketball coach Clemon Johnson told his team at halftime that he was tired of watching them get “pushed around.” He simply told them to “show me.”

The team responded.

Sophomore Reggie Lewis scored 22 points with six three-pointers and junior Amin Stevens added 15 points and 12 rebounds as the Rattlers defeated North Carolina Central 62-60, Saturday night.

The win ended a six-game losing streak as the Rattlers (3-13, 1-1 MEAC) opened up conference play. Johnson was happy to see the skid come to a halt.

“Any victory was good from what we were going through,” Johnson said. “Tonight we had the ability to put the ball in the basket and we didn’t have a three to four minute stretch without one.”

The game was hard-fought and closely played by both teams. There were 14 lead changes and 10 ties. Neither team held a lead over seven points.

After NC Central’s Ebuka Anyaorah tied the game at 57 with a three pointer with 2:44 remaining, Lewis answered on the next possession with a go-ahead three pointer of his own. The Rattlers never looked back.

Lewis thanked Johnson for giving him a chance to produce.

“Coach (Johnson) ran a few plays for me in the beginning and I started knocking down shots,” Lewis said. “I just tried to stay focused and continue taking good shots.”

Johnson also praised the play of Lewis.

“He had the hot hand and we leaned on him,” he said. “He’s still learning but he’s now accepting his role on the team.”

The Rattlers played solid defense all game, limiting NC Central (7-8, 1-1 MEAC) to shoot 39 percent from the field. They also held the team under its season scoring average of 77 points a game.

Stevens and senior Yannick Crowder anchored the defense, which out-rebounded their opponent 38-31.

Stevens admitted that winning the battle on the glass was the key to the victory.

“It was important since we scored baskets on our second chances,” Stevens said. “I tried to go out there and keep the plays alive and give our team the best chance to win.”

After the victory, Johnson remained optimistic about the team’s chances of being a contender in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

“I hope that we can keep the momentum like this,” he said. “We are going to enjoy it but not boast about it. We still got to go and get ready for the next game.”

The Rattlers will return to action on Monday in Greensboro, N.C., as they will face North Carolina A&T.