NORFOLK, Va., – The 12th-seeded Florida A&M women built a 13-point lead with 6:32 to play and hung on for a 66-64 win over 13th-seeded Savannah State Thursday in quarterfinal action of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Basketball Tournament at the Norfolk Scope Arena.
The win advanced the Lady Rattlers to Friday’s noon semifinal against top-seeded North Carolina A&T State. FAMU improved to 8-23 on the year, while the Lady Tigers concluded their campaign at 5-25.
Florence Quattara tossed in 24 points on 9-20 shooting from the field, including a 4-11 effort from beyond the arc. Shakeyrra added 12 points and a game-high 19 rebounds in the victory.
Savannah State got a team-high 22 points from Kaylee Allen, who missed most of the third quarter with a knee injury before returning in the final period to lead the Lady Tiger comeback. Her 3-point attempt at the end that would have given her team the win was off the mark.
Alexxus Sowell added 15 points and a team-high 17 boards, while Heniaya Moton contributed 12 points and six rebounds in the loss.
The Lady Rattlers led by 12 (23-11) after one and five (40-35) at the half, took a 53-45 lead into the final period, then scored 10 of the first 15 points of the quarter to build a 63-50 advantage when Dy’Manee Royal put in a short jumper with 6:32 to play.
It appeared FAMU was on its way to an easy win; however, Savannah State scored eight straight points to close to within 63-58 on an inside basket by Allen with 3:28 on the clock. Morrison made two free throws for the Lady Rattlers and a 65-58 lead with three minutes left.
The Lady Tigers then got a 3-pointer from Jacqueline Anderson – who finished with six points – which ignited a 6-0 run that closed the gap to 65-64 with 16.6 seconds remaining.
Ecenur Yurdakul, who had eight points for the Lady Rattlers, made the first of two attempts from the line to put FAMU ahead 66-64 with 11.3 left. She was off the mark on the second attempt and Savannah State grabbed the rebound and took a timeout.
Following the timeout, Jazmine Bartlett’s 3-pointer that would have given Savannah State the win was long but the rebound came straight to Allen, who also launched a potential game winner, but it, too, was off the mark as time expired.
“I’m proud of team,” said FAMU head coach LeDawn Gibson. “We gave up a big lead and made it a close game at the end, but our players were relentless and just refused to lose. I’m overjoyed that we are still playing. No one, except ourselves of course, expected us to be at this point, but our seniors were not ready for their careers to end.”
Baker, of Savannah State, also praised the effort of his team, which included eight freshmen and five walk-ons, two from the volleyball squad.
“My young team made it a great week of basketball for our fans and supporters. “We got an early win against a very good Norfolk State team on Monday in a come-from-behind win. This game (against FAMU) mirrored that game as we fell behind but charged back to give ourselves a chance at the end. I’m proud of the effort and courage they showed.”