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Strong Second Half Leads Rattlers Past A&T

Courtesy: NC A&T Sports Information
          Release: 01/14/2014
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A&T's Bruce Beckford has 25 rebounds in his last two games. Photo by Kevin L. Dorsey
Courtesy: NC A&T Sports Information
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida A&M rarely missed and North Carolina A&T had trouble making shots in the second half, which resulted in the Rattlers coming away with a 76-66 win over the Aggies in men’s basketball action at the Al Lawson Center Monday night.

The Rattlers shot 55 percent in the second half, while the Aggies 29 percent. The Rattlers used solid dribble penetration from guards Jamie Adams and Richie Spiller that led to dunks for Trey Kellum and Bobby King. Kellum finished with 14 points and seven rebounds on 7-for-9 shooting, while King came off the bench to score 10 points and grab seven rebounds on 5-for-6 shooting.

“We did not guard the ball defensively in the second half,” said A&T head coach Cy Alexander. “We allowed a team to go from shooting 29 percent in the first half to shooting 55 percent in the second. They scored 49 points on us in the second half.”

FAMU (6-11, 2-2 MEAC) appeared to become a little more aggressive with the basketball 8 ½ minutes into the second half. With the game tied at 50, Adams got into the lane and dumped off a bounce pass to King for a dunk. On the Rattlers next possession, Adams went to the basket again and got fouled. His two free throws put the Rattlers ahead by four. After two Lamont Middleton free throws, a drive to the basket by Reggie Lewis led to a Walter Davis III tip-in.

A&T senior guard Richaud Pack brought A&T to within one at 56-55 with three free throws. But the Rattlers went on a 10-1 run to pull away. Six of the Rattlers’ points on the run were scored on layups.

“First of all Florida A&M is a very talented, veteran team,” said Alexander. “They’ve got size, they’ve got depth and they have extreme quickness. They took it to another level on us in the second half and we didn’t match it. We talk about playing hard, playing with confidence, playing smart and playing together. We did maybe one of those things. We played with confidence, but we certainly didn’t play hard, play smart or together.”

The Aggies (4-12, 1-1 MEAC) finished their Florida road trip with a spilt. They were looking for their first Florida sweep since the 1995 season. The Aggies had a flourish at the end of the first half that gave them a chance for the sweep.

Trailing 21-15 with 5:38 remaining in the first half, the Aggies were without a field goal from their top two scorers in Middleton and Pack. The two star guards did not let that go on much further. Pack connected on a three to cut the lead to three before driving to the basket to put the Aggies to within one. Middleton followed Pack’s drive with a 3-pointer to give A&T a 23-21 lead. Middleton completed the 10-0 run with a tip-in of his own miss.

The Aggies lead ballooned to 29-24 on a Bruce Beckford put back, but Lewis hit a three just before the half to give the Rattlers a boost going into the locker room.

Beckford, the reigning MEAC Defensive Player of the Week, had 12 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. It marked the second straight game he recorded a career high in rebounds after grabbing 11 at Bethune-Cookman on Saturday. Middleton finished with 20 points and six rebounds on 9-for-10 shooting at the line, while Pack finished with 15.

The good thing is four out of our next five games are in Corbett Sports Center, so we’ve got to take care of that,” said Alexander. “Any time you can go on the road and go .500 in the MEAC it’s a moral victory. We obviously wanted to go 2-0, but we didn’t. Now, we’ve got to increase our home record.”

The Aggies return home to play a non-conference game against NJIT on Saturday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. They will return to conference play against Delaware State the following Monday as they take on Delaware State at 7 p.m. They will play at N.C. Central on Jan. 22 before getting Morgan State (Jan. 25) and Coppin State at home (Jan.27).

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