In the course of a basketball game there will be a handful of plays that could dictate the outcome: a made contested shot, a steal or even a missed shot.
In the December 19th match-up between the USF Bulls and the FAMU Rattlers the key play was a charge taken by USF forward Martino Brock. With four seconds left in the game and FAMU trailing by two points, Rattlers guard Reggie Lewis drove to the basket but Brock instinctively set himself in the path to the rim, drew the offensive foul and sealed the 73-70 victory for the Bulls.
“He had to do that because he wasn’t supposed to switch,” Victor Rudd said of the charge taken by Brock. “He had John (Egbunu) on the perimeter and he had to make up for that… it was a great defensive play.” And while Brock, a senior from Memphis TN, did not add much statistically — six points on one of four shooting, the defensive play of the game more than made up for it.
This game started similar to the previous home game against Florida Gulf Coast: infrequent ball movement, no transition offense and slow perimeter defense, but as with the victory over FGCU, the Bulls stepped up in key moments to secure the victory.
With 40 seconds left and trailing by one, Victor Rudd, who ended the night with 19 points and 10 rebounds, saw an opening in the lane, drove to the basket and passed to an open Corey Allen Jr. for a corner three-pointer to give the Bulls a two point lead that they wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the night.
Allen Jr., who struggled against FGCU, bounced back nicely and ended the game with a career high 22 points on the night. Against FGCU it seemed as if he was forcing his shot, but against the Rattlers he let the offense come to him and it resulted in a highly efficient nine of 14 shooting from the field.
The perimeter oriented Rattlers had an efficient game from beyond the arc going 10 of 24 and were led by guard Richie Spiller’s three three-pointers. Six Rattlers made three-pointers on the night including two from leading scorer Jamie Adams, who finished the game with 16 points and five assists — but also had a team high five turnovers.
While this was the fourth straight loss and ninth out of 11 games for FAMU program this season, it was the closest deficit they have had all year and while Head Coach Clemon Johnson isn’t one for moral victories, he and his staff should be able to take some positives from this game.
“We just don’t know how to finish the game ” said Johnson. “In a dogfight like this we havent learned how to win (that dogfight) yet.”
This victory showed another level of growth for the USF program. In previous seasons if their top performers, like Anthony Collins (two points, zero shot attempts) or Chris Perry ( three points on one of seven shooting) did not contribute in the box score or play well, it would have been difficult for the team to win regardless of the opponent.
“It bodes well for where our program is now,” said Head Coach Stan Heath. “We do have more bodies, we do have more depth and we can find a way to win if everybody’s not playing at the level they can play.”
One of those bodies was Flint MI native Javontae Hawkins, who contributed nine points on the evening after only having had practiced one day in the past 13 due to injury.
As the team prepares to head out west for the Las Vegas Classic, they understand that there still is a lot of work left to be done if they plan on being a force in American Athletic Conference.
The first thing is limiting offensive rebounding. There were two stretches against the Rattlers where they allowed five offensive rebounds during a possession and against better teams that lack of focus could very well have them on the outside looking in when its time for NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday.