Being undermanned is no problem for Rattlers
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
A look at the bench of the FAMU women’s basketball team reflected a microcosm of just how the Rattlers have been getting through the season so far.
They were short handed again in their second Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game against Savannah State. But it didn’t matter, as FAMU cruised to a 59-38 victory over the Tigers at the Lawson Center on New Year’s Day.
Just three reserves were dressed to play, while six others sat out with an assortment of injuries. They were expected to go into their final non-conference game against Mercer undermanned again Monday night.
Even when the Rattlers pulled off a stunner by beating Clemson 77-68 in South Carolina, their bench was short.
There is no telling how long the short-handedness will continue, said coach LeDawn Gibson. However, she said, what her team is enduring – and with reasonable success – is a sign of maturity and trust.
“It’s all coming together now,” said Gibson, who watched the Rattlers struggle with seven losses in their first 10 games. “They see the big picture.
“Earlier in the season, I think we were trying to find ourselves and they didn’t trust each other on the court. Now it doesn’t matter. It’s about adjusting and going through adversity and pushing through.”
That much was obvious in the way the Rattlers put away the Tigers, the same team that beat them by more than 20 points in each of their two meetings last season.
FAMU pounded the Tigers on the boards and beat them in transition. Midway through the first half, the Rattlers led 17-9 and they pushed the lead to 26-18 by intermission.
Being undermanned comes with a cost, though. With leading scorer Olivia Antilla carrying two fouls early, the Rattlers had to rely on what it could get from the only three dressed reserves. They accounted for 13 points, while the Tigers got 14 from its six reserves.
Although she sat out most of the second quarter, Antilla still finished as the Rattlers’ second leading scorer with 11 points. Alicia McCray had a game-high 13 points for the Rattlers, while Khadejra Young added 10.
Antilla praised the effort of the reserves, who she said have become more confident after the significant role they played in the signature win over Clemson.
“They know that they are valuable to the team whether it was defense or scoring in the extra rotation,” she said.
Beating SSU gave the Rattlers their third consecutive victory, a sign that they’ve found their identity, McCray said.
“We feed off each other,” she said. “They (opposing teams) might be double-teaming a player or focusing on one player, but we know we can always find somebody.”