FAMU holds off Savannah State, 69-65

Justin Ravenel goes up for 2 of his team-high 19 points in FAMU's win over Savannah State on Saturday.
Sydne Vigille | The Famuan

The Florida A&M men’s basketball team pulled out a close 69-65 win over the Tigers of Savannah State on Saturday, improving the Rattlers’ conference record to 2-1.

Justin Ravenel led the way all night for FAMU, finishing with a team-high 19 points. Three other Rattlers finished in double figures.

Before tip-off at the Lawson Center, there seemed to be a buzz that was not set by the players, but rather the fans. FAMU used that enthusiastic buzz from an announced crowd of 1,417 to find a way to bounce back from Monday’s road loss at Norfolk State. It was the Rattlers’ fifth overall win of the season (5-14), and their second win in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (2-1 MEAC) play.

With equal contributions coming from the team as a whole (four players in double figures), Isaiah Martin stood out the most and found a way to electrify the crowd with his emphatic dunks over SSU’s defenders. He also demonstrated an unmatched toughness and grittiness on both sides of the ball, especially on the offensive glass where he finished with three offensive rebounds.

Martin’s all-around effort translated to the entire team doing the same, where they (FAMU) finished the night by out-rebounding the Tigers 43-35. Martin finished the night with 15 points on 7 of 8 shooting, 10 rebounds and two blocks, and a standing ovation as he exited the game.

“I felt going into the game I could dominate from the jump because there was nobody as big as me on the other team,” Martin said, "I knew as long as I was around the basket, I knew I could do my best thing, which is scoring the ball.”

In the team’s post-game press conference, head coach Robert McCullum addressed the Rattlers’ energy, the help the crowd provided before the game and how that propelled them to the win over Savannah State.

“I thought the energy from the crowd was just outstanding, and I think a lot of that was because of the guy to my left,” (Martin) McCullum said. “I don’t know what the record is for most dunks in this building for one game, but I can’t imagine its more than what he had and when the crowd is into it like that the players just feed off of it.”

Ravenel also made his presence known. He was able to put a stop to the Tigers’ momentum swings throughout the game as he made one big shot after another, going 7-of-16 (5-of-12 from three-point range), including a contested three-pointer in the corner to extend the Rattlers’ lead to double-digits and give them a 66-56 advantage with 4:32 remaining.

In the team’s post-game press conference, Ravenel spoke about his impact on the game and how he converted on SSU’s miscues.

“With me, it’s always about capitalizing on people’s missed opportunities and those are the times where we can get out and run and put up shots. I take pride in opportunities like that and I always envision myself in practice where a team misses a shot,” Ravenel said. “When an opposing team misses their opportunities, that’s a chance to take advantage of ours.”

Next Saturday the Rattlers will look to extend their winning streak when they host Maryland-Eastern Shore at 4 p.m.