For the past two years a win, any win, was important. With a team of walk-ons and players under development, Coach Samuels’ Rattlers dared to be competitive, but could not hold weight against most other teams. They just didn’t have the talent. Playing against former SWAC Conference Champion Southern University on Saturday afternoon, the Rattlers weren’t just competitive, they almost won the game. They were right there in the first half and even gained the lead in the first minutes of the second half. With a foul here, a forced play there, and a financial drought, excuse me, poor shooting down the stretch, the Rattlers couldn’t maintain. That has been the case through the last four games this season.
First there was Georgia Southern. Playing at a neutral sight FAMU led at the half 33-32. Georgia Southern took the second half 51-39 and walked away with the win. Against Stetson, at the same neutral site, FAMU went ahead at the half 49-39, however, Stetson dominated the second half 59-41. More recently against a taller, hot shooting Kennesaw State, the two teams were tied at the half 36-36. FAMU was aggressive on offense and tenacious on defense. Kennesaw won the second half by only two points and came away with the win 76-74.
On Saturday afternoon the final score against Southern University was 83-71 in the Jaguars favor. For most of the game, including the second half, play was competitive on both ends of the court. FAMU trailed at the half 46-41. In the second half they tied the game 51-51 and at one point led. With less than six minutes remaining the game was tied again at 67-67. Down the stretch the Jaguars would take advantage of FAMU’s tallest player sitting on the bench because of foul trouble and FAMU’s poor shooting percentage to slowly pull away.
Against the Jaguars the Rattlers started the second half like they were going to win. They forced Southern turnovers and etched out enough points to lead by as many as 6. With a roster of 8 newcommers it may be a matter of maturation. Even though the Rattlers loss, one could see that they are improving. If they continue to improve in December, they will have to do it against tough opponents, that is, until conference play when hopefully all of this will pay off.