By Andrea Wheeler, NCCU Assistant Sports Information Director
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Despite never leading during the first half, the North Carolina Central University women’s basketball team snapped its four-game losing streak, opening Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference for the first time since the Division-I transition with a victory, as the Lady Eagles defeated the Florida A&M Lady Rattlers for the first time in school history, 71-64 on Saturday.
Junior Racquel Davis (Brooklyn, N.Y.) led NCCU earning her fifth double-double of the season and topping her previous season-high of 21, collecting a game-best 27 points and pulling down 11 boards. Davis shot an impressive 10-for-13 from the field, 7-for-9 from the charity stripe and seized seven of her 11 rebounds on the offensive end.
In addition, senior Tiffany Gary (Delray Beach, Fla.) collected her second double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds, shooting 6-for-7 from the field while junior Khyra Conerly (Oakland, Calif.) collected 10 points and a team-best three steals.
The Lady Rattlers opened the contest on a 7-0 run before NCCU head coach Vanessa Taylor called a 30 second timeout. Rookie Morgan Jones (Stockbridge, Ga.) broke the Lady Eagles scoring drought with a three ball from junior Rachel Williams (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) at the 18:09 mark.
Back-to-back baskets from Gary tied the game at seven for the first time with 17:25 on the clock, before FAMU went on a 14-5 run over the next seven minutes, pulling ahead 21-11.
Davis scored nine-straight for NCCU but the Lady Rattlers answered every basket, taking their largest lead of the contest at the 5:26 mark as the Lady Eagles trailed FAMU by 14 at 34-20.
A back-and-forth battle for the final five minutes of the first frame left NCCU behind the Lady Rattlers 41-30 at the intermission.
The Lady Eagles opened the second twenty minutes of action on a 10-4 run; cutting the FAMU lead to three after a jumper from Conerly at the 15:22 mark set the score to 45-42.
A missed jumper from senior Jessica Freeman (Charlotte, N.C.) was pulled off the glass and put back by Davis, tying the game for the second time at 56.
Davis’ made layup, foul, and made free throw with 6:16 on the clock, gave the Lady Eagles their first lead of the game as they pulled ahead by three with 6:16 left in the contest.
NCCU closed out the final six minutes of the conference match-up on a 13-6 run, giving them the seven point, 71-64 victory.
As a team, the Lady Eagles shot 25-for-51 from the field (49.0%), 2-for-8 from behind the arc (25.0%) and 19-for-25 from the free throw line (76.0%), collected a game-best 41 boards, eight assists and eight team steals while outscoring FAMU, 41-23 in the second half.
The Lady Rattlers were led by Jasmine Grice’s 19 points and six boards. The MEAC’s third leading scorer was held to only six shots in the second half, scoring three points below her 22.0 average.
NCCU moves to 6-8 on the season and 1-0 in league play while FAMU falls to 8-8 overall and 1-2 in the MEAC.
The Lady Eagles continue MEAC action on Monday, Jan. 13 as the Lady Eagles travel to Daytona Beach, Fla., to take on the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats in a 5 p.m. tipoff.