DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. –The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats came out of the gates strong on Saturday afternoon, and the Florida A&M Rattlers were never able to recover.
Bethune-Cookman had five players score at least 16 points, and they used an 11-0 out of the gate to put the Rattlers against the wall early. The Wildcats never trailed in their 99-81 win over Florida A&M on Saturday afternoon inside the historic Moore Gymnasium.
With the win, the Wildcats remain perfect in MEAC play, pushing their record to 4-0. The Rattlers fall to 1-3 in conference play, and have lost three straight.
All five players who scored 16 points or more for the Wildcats shot better than 50% from the field in the win. As a team, Bethune-Cookman shot 56.1% from the floor and 44.4% from three point range. On the contrary, the Rattlers shot 37.9% from the floor and just 25.0% from beyond the arc.
The Wildcats came out of the gate strong, scoring the first 11 points of the day to give them all the momentum early. Shawntrez Davis scored the first eight points, while guard Malik Maitland capped the early run with a three pointer at the 16:57 mark.
Florida A&M got on the board with a pair of free throws from Justin Ravenel with 16:36 to play in the opening half, ending a scoring drought of over three minutes.
Bethune-Cookman would push their lead to as many as 22 points in the first half. A three pointer from Brandon Tabb with 2:16 left in the opening half gave the Wildcats a 47-25 lead. The Wildcats would take a 50-33 lead into the break, and had things on cruise control in the second.
In the second half, the Wildcats would see their lead grow to as many as 25 points on several occasions. They wouldn’t allow the Rattlers to get within 13 points throughout the second half, and cruised to the 99-81 victory in front of their home crowd.
Forward Shawntrez Davis led all Wildcats’ scorers with 22 points, while adding seven rebounds before fouling out. Brandon Tabb added 20 points and six rebounds, while guard Isaiah Bailey came off the bench to post 19 points, six rebounds, and eight assists.
Soufiyane Diakite continued his strong play, recording his third straight double-double with 17 points and 16 rebounds.
For the Rattlers, forward Desmond Williams led all scorers on the afternoon with 28 points, on 10-of-17 shooting from the floor. Guard Marcus Barham added 15 points, but was just 3-of-16 from the floor in the loss.
With the win, Bethune-Cookman (9-9, 4-0) remains atop the MEAC standings. They get a break from non-conference play in their next outing, as they take on the Stetson Hatters in their yearly rivalry game. This year’s edition takes place on Monday, January 15th in Deland, FL.
The loss was the third straight for Florida A&M (2-18, 1-3) after a win to open their conference play on January 3rd. The Rattlers will look to get back in the win column on Monday night when they host the Delaware State Hornets.
– T. Bennett