By ALEXANDER LOMONACO
“I felt like this was our game,” FAMU Women’s head coach LeDawn Gibson,
Those were the words FAMU Women’s basketball head coach LeDawn Gibson started her postgame press conference with, after dropping another Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game to North Carolina Central 64-57, Monday afternoon in the Lawson Center.
Gibson had a point because her team was running out of the gate, using the same full court defense that they used against North Carolina A&T Saturday, to increase the speed of the game. That led to 16 points off turnovers in the first half as the Rattlers took an eight point lead, 32-24 at intermission, holding the Eagles to 32% shooting from the field.
However, the break must have made the Rattlers rusty as the energy and focus they started the game with quickly faded away as North Carolina Central started to make their runs with no counter from the Rattlers.
The Eagles put up 39 points in the second half, shooting 63% from the field and making 14 out of 18 free throw attempts, mostly off open mid-range shots created by constant ball movement.
In contrast the Rattlers only scored 24 points in the final twenty minutes shooting 25% from the field.
Gibson credited the second half woes to her team's lack of focus and energy on the defensive end; “I just told my team that level of energy is not going to get the job done”. When asked if the full court press on defense may have led to fatigue in the second half Gibson said it may have played a factor but emphasized the short turnaround from the Saturday game, and the team’s young age as a bigger reason.
“This is a young team of mostly freshmen and sophomores, who are not used to the quick turnaround, and it is something they will have to adapt to now with the conference tournament just around the corner”.
With the loss the Rattlers dropped to a 1-8 record in MEAC play. However that record is not something that Gibson says defines her team. “I think this team is as much of a contender and can run with whoever they are matched up with on the court”.
Mya Moye thrived in her new role as sixth man leading the Rattlers, leading the team in points with 15 which can be attributed to her starting off a hot 5 for 5 from the field. Helping her in scoring was forward Jasmine Ballew who chipped in 13 points including two three pointers and Center Dy’Manee Royal continued being a force in the paint like she has all season. finishing the game with a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.
For the Eagles it was the starting guard Rodneysha Martin, who ran the pick and roll often with Paulina Afriyie, who combined for 34 points.
The Rattlers finish up the second half of their four game home stand next weekend. They host Howard on Saturday at 2:00 p.m., before wrapping up the home stretch with Norfolk State next Monday at 4:00 p.m.