Trailing by 25 points with just over 11 minutes to go, the Florida A&M Lady Rattlers embarked on a 30-12 run in the home stretch. However, a slow start and late turnovers doomed the team as it fell to the University of Southern Mississippi Eagles 88-71 Wednesday night in its home opener.
The Lady Rattlers were looking to bounce back from a road loss to the Georgia State Panthers over the weekend. Instead, they found themselves trailing 19-3 early on due to the Golden Eagles press defense.
Shooting woes continued for the team. After an off shooting performance in the last game, the team struggled shooting 32 percent in the first half of play. They found themselves trailing 44-25 at halftime.
Junior guard Jamie Grice paced the Lady Rattlers with 25 points and four rebounds. However, she believes that the team is still working to put together new pieces early on in the season.
“It’s hard. You have to put together chemistry all over again,” Grice said. “As long as we keep working and come out more focused, we can get into the groove of our offense.”
The shooting for the Rattlers picked up in the second half when they converted twice as many field goals as they did in the first half. Their pressure defense was also a key to the comeback.
Head women’s basketball coach LeDawn Gibson used dead ball timeouts down the stretch to continue pumping her team up.
“First of all you never give up,” Gibson said. “You playing for the name on the front of your jersey and not yourself.”
The Lady Rattler’s defense forced fifteen turnovers in the second half, but that wasn’t enough. Golden Eagles guard Tanecka Carey erupted for a career high 39 points.
Two free throws from FAMU guard Patrice Collie cut the lead to seven with fewer than two minutes remaining, but two straight turnovers in their final possessions were the Lady Rattlers undoing.
Junior guard Kimberly Sparkman, who scored 13 points, said the team needed to carry the energy that they had for the last stretch of the game.
The Lady Rattlers will stay at home and take on the Virginia Commonwealth Lady Rams this Saturday in the Al Lawson Center.