By Ebony Ivey/FAMU Sports Information Intern
NORFOLK, Va. (Mar. 9) - MEAC Tournament play brought the best out of the FAMU Lady Rattlers who bowed out of the MEAC tournament in the semifinal round against the top-seeded Aggies of NC A&T, in a thrilling 65-61 loss.
Although FAMU reached the end of their tournament journey, they did so overcoming adversity, including the loss of team leader Shalaunda Burney-Robinson and four other players that were expected to contribute heavily to the team this year.
“They showed so much heart,” said head coach LeDawn Gibson. "Like I said earlier, nobody expected us to get this far but us. They refused to give up."
FAMU who generated just eight points to the Aggies’ 17 in the second quarter, shot 68 percent from the free throw line making 13 of 19.
Senior guard Florence Ouattara led the Rattlers with a game high 20 points and added 6 rebounds.
Shakeyrra Morrison who finished with her third tournament double-double, 15 points and 15 rebounds, broke the FAMU single-season rebounding record, accumulating 319 boards. Morrison averaged a double-double15 points and 15 rebounds for the tournament.
The record was previously set at 309 in 1994 by All-American Cathy Robinson.
“We always believed that we were going to the championship," said Morrison.
FAMU retreated to the locker room for halftime down 27-32.
In the second half, less than two minutes into the third quarter, Ecenur “E” Yurdakul iced a three-pointer to command a one point lead for FAMU, 33-32.
Trading runs for the lead, FAMU trailed by as many as 12 in the fourth.
Kala Green led the Aggies with 18 points, 7 rebounds.
Three three-point jumpers from Ouattara would put the Rattlers back in the contest only trailing by three, but was not enough to solidify the contest for FAMU as the clock ran down.
“I saw a lot of heads going down when A&T started making a run. I realized I had to step up and do something. I had to show them that we can still win this game," Ouattara said. She responded by nailing a long jumper and two three-pointers in a row, scoring eight quick points for the Lady Rattlers.
The Rattlers were handily defeated by 21 in their previous meeting (Feb. 24) with the Aggies, 73-52.
“We came into Norfolk with a different mindset than the regular season. They were more focused, they were more tuned in to what we were saying. I just saw a different team," said Gibson. "I told them coming into the tournament, we’re the underdogs, but I knew we were better than the 12th seed."