Florida A&M 66, Bethune-Cookman 58
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ Senior Sean Black scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Florida A&M to a 66-58 victory over rival Bethune-Cookman on Saturday.
Florida A&M (8-18, 8-10 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference), finished the regular season tied for fifth in the conference, and had lost its last seven meetings with Bethune-Cookman (11-15, 9-9).
``Eventually, our winning streak over FAMU was going to end,″ Bethune-Cookman coach Maurice Sheals said. ``That was a heck of a run against your rival. I’d rather have it end here in their gym than in the MEAC Tournament.″
The Rattlers were 8-1 this season in games at Gaither Gym.
``Bethune-Cookman had beaten us for so long,″ said FAMU coach Mickey Clayton, whose team opened this season with nine straight losses.
``We talked a lot about our tradition at home to these kids. . . You don’t let someone knock on your door while you’re eating dinner and take home your wife or girlfriend.″
FAMU’s Jerome James, a 7-foot-1 junior center, added 16 points and nine rebounds in 25 minutes.
Senior guard Lonnie Mincey led Bethune-Cookman with 21 points and Richard Leonard added 10.
The Rattlers trailed 54-53 with three minutes left in the game, but they outscored Bethune-Cookman 12-0 over the next 2:45 to take a 65-54 lead with 15 seconds remaining.
James triggered the decisive run with back-to-back baskets in the paint.
Black made a pair of free throws and converted a steal into a driving layup with 2:03 left for a 61-54 FAMU lead.
Guy Walton and Olatunda Martin capped the 12-0 tear with a pair of dunks.
Bethune-Cookman failed to score on seven consecutive possessions, missing five shots and turning the ball over twice, as Florida A&M pulled away.
The Rattlers built an early 27-13 lead before a capacity crowd of 3,893 at Gaither Gym, but FAMU managed just one field goal in the final 7:11 of the first half. Bethune-Cookman went on a 12-2 run to cut the lead to 29-25 at halftime.
``We came out flat and did not play good basketball right from the beginning,″ Sheals said. ``Then at the end, we did not manage the game very well at all.″