Rattler head coach Clemon Johnson was happy about the victory, but more excited that the Rattlers have learned to depend on one anther. "It was a very exciting game. At this stage, any game you can win is a great game. I'm honored to be here and honored to still be playing. No one expected us to be here. We gave away three at the house to end the season, but now we're on the road and thanks to our Lord and savior and the teammates, they've come together as a team," Johnson said.
The Rattlers were led by Amin Stevens who went 7-of-16 to score 16 points. He added eight rebounds on the night to tie Yannick Crowder, who also grabbed eight. Crowder added five blocked shots, which deterred the Hornets from trying to drive inside and forcing them to play an outside game.
Reggie Lewis went 5-of-9 from the field, including 2-of-3 from three-point range to score 15. Crowder, who had been battling flu-like symptoms, chipped 12 points to round out the trio of Rattlers who scored in double figures.
The Hornets were led by MEAC Rookie of the Year Tahj Tate, who poured in 18 points to lead all scorers. He was 9-of-17 from the field, while playing the entire 45 minutes of the game. The only other DSU player to score double figures was Casey Walker who added 16. Marques Oliver pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.
The Rattlers started strong and finished strong. In the overtime period, the Rattlers' team defense stifled the Hornets, only allowing a single bucket. "This is my first time experiencing being in a tournament as a college coach. I was here as an assistant coach tom Mickey Clayton in the 90's, but you just can't beat this feeling," Johnson said.
The Rattlers shot 14-of-32 from the field in the first half and 7-of-26 from the field in the second half. In overtime, they went 3-of-4 for a game average of 38.7 percent. The Rattlers shot 4-of-12 from three-point range and 13-of-19 (68.4 percent) from the field.
The story of the game was simple...the Rattlers worked the ball inside. FAMU scored 38 of their points in the paint, while DSU could only manage 18 from inside. The Rattlers also dominated the second chance points, carding 21 to the Hornets' 10. Another glaring statistic explaining the Rattlers' success thus far in the tournament was the bench scoring. While DSU managed just four points, FAMU managed 19. The highly contested game had 11 lead changes and eight ties.
The Rattlers seem to be resilient in this postseason, something that they lacked during the regular season. "We were gassed, but we kept telling each other to stay positive because we had another five minutes to play. We knew to keep our heads in overtime so we could win the game," said Stevens said. Lewis echoed the sentiments of his head coach. "You've got to stay humble in these situations. You got to stay on an even keel," Lewis added.
One of the main achilles heels of the Rattlers during the regular season was their turnovers. The Rattlers were much more under control, ending with just 11 turnovers.
The Rattlers will face the No.1 seed Norfolk State Spartans in the semifinal round tomorrow at 8 p.m.