Lady Rattlers win season opener

The Florida A&M Lady Rattlers kicked off the season with a win, beating the Jacksonville University Lady Dolphins 69-64.

Head coach LeDawn Gibson was pleased with the team’s effort but wants to see improvement.

“For the first game, I thought the team did pretty good,” Gibson said. “We made a lot of mental mistakes, but jitters and nerves were to blame for that.”

Early season jitters filled the first half with sloppy play, which contributed to a combined 29 turnovers.

The pace of play contributed to the minor errors, yet the pace of the game suited the Lady Rattlers (1-0) well. They shot 45 percent.

In the first half, the teams were evenly matched as they were separated by only one point, one rebound and two assists. The Lady Dolphins (0-1) led the Lady Rattlers 34-33 at the half.

In the second half, defense reigned supreme as it became a struggle for both teams to score. The defense was intense all game. Neither team crossed the 40-point plateau until 13 minutes were left to play.

Although the half started slowly, the Lady Rattlers were able to shift into gear, taking a 56-52 lead with just under six minutes to play.

The Lady Dolphins were able to tie the game at 64, but a key 3-point-play by senior guard Kimberly Sparkman gave the Lady Rattlers a 67-64 lead with 1:23 left to play. The Lady Rattlers never looked back from that point.

Jasmine Grice led the team with 16 points on 5 of 19 shooting. She acknowledged her shooting woes but was happy with the team effort.

“My shots weren’t falling,” Grice said. “But I encouraged the team and turned up my intensity on defense.”

Sparkman was moved to the point guard position and handled the change well.

“It’s really different,” Sparkman said. “But being a senior, I have to come out and do what’s needed for a win.”

The Lady Rattlers look to continue their winning ways on Monday when they travel to take on the Troy University Trojans.