Rattlers fall short despite strong show from freshman Ravenal
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Tell Justin Ravenal the old adage that practice makes perfect and he’ll definitely agree.
After knocking down 6 of 8 3-point attempts in an 86-67 FAMU loss to Samford University on Saturday night, the freshman guard explained that the performance at the Lawson Center was the result of hard work.
The 18-points performance by Ravenal from behind the arc was a game-high effort for the Rattlers. He hit his first four tries.
“Once I hit two or three in a row, then my confidence is at an all-time high and I just lean on those moments,” said Ravenal, who was recently named MEAC Rookie of the Week. “When we need points, I’ve got to be there to step up to make shots when other guys aren’t.”
FAMU put together its best run early in the second half after going into the break trailing 45-37. A Ravenal three-point shot started a 14-5 spout and he added another long-range jumper to close the gap, 52-51, but it would be the closest that the Rattlers got to wiping out the lead that the Bulldogs held from the opening seconds.
Samford also took advantage of shooting from distance and after the first five minutes of the game had hit two 3-pointers on the way to a commanding 19-point lead.
The Bulldogs managed to control the first 20 minutes, finding ways to penetrate the Rattlers’ zone defense.
“They spread you (and) they have several guys who can make shots,” said coach Byron Samuels. “We had chances to take the lead (but) we just couldn’t get over that hump.”
In part, that was because the Bulldogs hit 11 of 22 short from long range.
“They stretched our defense but part of our game plan was to stop dribble penetration and force them into contested threes,” Samuels said. “We did, but unfortunately they made 50 percent of them.”
With just under five minutes left in the opening half, Samuels briefly adjusted his defense to a man attack and it seemed to slow the Bulldogs a smidge on the offensive end, but FAMU still wasn’t responding sufficiently.
Backs-to-back baskets but Jordan Jackson and K’ja Johnson midway through the half were the first consecutive field goals for the Rattlers but that barely put a dent in the deficit that bulged to 27-10.
“We came out a little weak,” said Treavann Warren, who also scored 18 points with six rebounds for FAMU. “We didn’t start off mentally with the intensity that we needed. If we could come out on the right page I think we’d be a phenomenal team because we are getting better with every game.”
On another night, the Rattlers’ 21 of 47 connect rate from the field might have been good enough to win, but not when the Bulldogs were having a 30 of 51 night. That was good enough for 58.8 percent shooting.
Samford also beat the Rattlers on the boards, 35-28, and FAMU’s 17 turnovers didn’t help either.
Still, Samuels said he saw enough from his team to believe it’s not far from being good enough to overcome sluggish starts the way it almost did against the Bulldogs in the second half.
“We’ve got to sustain those periods where we are playing well,” he said. “We are a young team. We are going to be a good team. Soon.”