TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Nov.8) – The Florida A&M Lady Rattlers got their season off to a good start with an impressive 69-64 win over the visiting Jacksonville University Dolphins today at the Al Lawson Center on “Field Trip Day,” where hundreds of elementary school students packed the gym to support the Lady Rattlers.
Jasmine Grice led the Lady Rattlers with 16 points, much like she has done over the last three seasons at FAMU. But, the team now boasts legitimate-sized post players, who at times took the game their way. Head coach LeDawn Gibson said getting size in the middle was a priority for the Lady Rattlers. “Last season we played with post players who were 5’8” and 5’9”, so we went out and got some big girls. Some of our returnees like Patrice Collie came in and got some big baskets for us, but once our new girls get the system down, they will add more of an impact later,” she said.
Collie chipped in 10 second half points to keep the Lady Rattlers in the fold when the game was tight. The newcomers Gibson recruited to help bolster the team’s inside play were Taneka Rubin who added 11 points, and Adenike Dawodu scored 10, to round out the quartet of Lady Rattlers in double figures.
Gibson felt that the team began to gel during the game and will only improve during the season. “For the first game, I thought we did pretty good. The first half was merely jitters, but the second half we gained our composure and did our defensive assignments, which helped us out a lot,” she said.
Grice welcomes the well-rounded approach to the team this season. “To start off, shots weren’t falling and our defensive rotation was not there. Once we started talking and communicating with one another, that’s when we started having success. Our inside game has really gotten better. It helps free us up and takes some of the stress off us,” she said.
FAMU shot 39.1 percent from the field for the game, 18.2 percent from three-point range and 73.9 percent from the free throw line. Jamie Foreman led the team on the boards with eight rebounds. Rubin grabbed six rebounds, while Grice pulled down five.
For Jacksonville, Sherranda Reddick lit up the scoreboard with a game-high 26 points, including 6-for-9 from the three-point stripe. Queen Alford would be the only remaining Dolphin in double figures with 13 points. Briona Brown led all rebounders with 11 for JU.
With the game in the balance in the second half, the sixth man jumped in on cue. The hundreds of kids began shouting “Let’s Go Rattlers,” and even began doing the wave. The Lady Rattlers were down by three points at the time, but used the crowd to gather momentum. “They (kids) definitely helped. The atmosphere was unbelievable. I’m a little hoarse because I couldn’t scream louder than all those kids, but I think it was a great idea for us to do this and to bring that atmosphere back to FAMU,” Gibson said.
The kids came from schools across Leon and Gadsden counties. They were accompanied by several teachers, faculty and chapperones who added to the atmosphere. Grice, from Quincy, Fla., was particularly surprised to see so many folks from Gadsden County. “It was very big for all of these kids to be out here. I know it was personally very big for me. For my hometown to come, and me not even know they were coming. To see so many familiar faces was added motivation for me,” Grice concluded.
The Lady Rattlers will travel to Troy, Ala., to take on the Troy Trojans on Nov.10 in a non-conference matchup.