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ASU edges FAMU in exhibition game

TALLAHASSEE — Senior Derein Chatman recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and junior Justin Wilcox added 12 points to lead the Albany State University Golden Rams past Division I Florida A&M 68-64 in an exhibition game for both teams.

“This was a great win for our program,” said ASU head coach Chris Cameron, who recorded his first victory over a Division I opponent since taking the reins at Albany State back in 2006. “The guys really worked hard in practice, and they were pumped up all week for this one. I am really proud of the effort and performance against a good FAMU team.”

With the score tied at 64 and the Golden Rams in possession of the ball, junior Jaren Harris provided the game-winning basket when he drained his second three-pointer to give ASU a 67-64 lead with 24 seconds remaining in the game. Following a FAMU timeout, the Rattlers’ failed in their attempt to send the game into overtime when Avery Moore missed a three-point from the right corner. Harris secured the rebound for Albany State and was fouled with five seconds left in the game. He made the front end of his one-if-one free throws to seal the game and send the Rattlers and their fans into a hushed state of shock.

“Coaches always talk about having a total team effort, and we definitely had one tonight,” Cameron stated. “When we got behind, Derein and Justin stepped their games up, and everyone else followed their efforts. Now, we have to take the momentum from this game and build on the foundation that we laid here tonight.” In front of a raucous crowd at FAMU’s Al Lawson Center, ASU showed no signs of intimidation, leading the contest the entire first half. The Golden Rams were able to force the Rattlers into numerous turnovers that led to easy baskets to build a 32-19 lead with 7:52 left in the first half. FAMU went on a 12-4 first half of it’s own to make the score 36-31 at halftime.

“We were able to turn them over a lot with our pressure defense in the first half,” Cameron said. “We wanted to run when we had our opportunities, and our defense allowed us to do that and build and early lead. However, we had a few careless turnovers of our own, and that gave them a chance to trim the lead.”

The first 10 minutes of the second half belonged to FAMU. With several of the Golden Rams post players on the bench in foul trouble, the Rattlers were able to take advantage of their size down low to build a 51-41 lead with 12:45 left in the contest.

“We were very flat at the start of the second half, and FAMU took advantage of that,” said Cameron. “We stopped pressuring the ball and they were able to do exactly what they wanted to on offense. If we were going to have a any chance for a win, we had to regain that first half fire.”

After Cameron called timeout, ASU slowly chipped away at the Rattlers’ lead. A three-pointer by Wilcox and tip-in by Demarcus Blunt ignited the start of the run, and cut the Golden Rams deficit to 51-46 at the 11:35 mark. After a three-minute drought by both teams, Chatman went on his own personal 4-0 run to bring ASU within one, 51-50 with 7:39 left in the game. From that moment, the two teams battled back and forth.

“We were struggling on both ends of the floor, and making careless mistakes,” said Chatman. “We needed more passion, so I started playing with some. I knew I had to step up to help my teammates get the ‘W’.”

Wilcox tied the game at 53 all with his second trey of the night, only to see FAMU’s Markee Teal tip-in an offensive rebound to give the Rattlers a 55-53 lead. Chatman finally put the Golden Rams back on top with his own three-pointer for a 56-55 lead with 6:19 remaining.

After Albany State took a 60-55 lead at the 5:25 mark, the Rattlers went on a 6-0 run to take a 61-60 lead with 3:57 left in the contest. The Rattlers led 63-60 before senior Stephen Francis hit a pair of free throws to bring Albany State within one, 63-62. On the Golden Rams’ next possession, they were able to capture the final tie of the game with senior Brian Thornton’s lay-up with 1:54 left.

With the score tied at 64 and the Golden Rams in possession of the ball, junior Jaren Harris provided the game-winning basket when he drained his second three-pointer to give ASU a 67-64 lead with 24 seconds remaining in the game. Following a FAMU timeout, the Rattlers’ failed in their attempt to send the game into overtime when Avery Moore missed a three-point from the right corner. Harris secured the rebound for Albany State and was fouled with five seconds left in the game. He made the front end of his one-if-one free throws to seal the game and send the Rattlers and their fans into a hushed state of shock.

“Coaches always talk about having a total team effort, and we definitely had one tonight,” Cameron stated. “When we got behind, Derein and Justin stepped their games up, and everyone else followed their efforts. ‘‘