ORANGEBURG, S.C. — Nasir Core scored 15 points, including three 3-pointers, but it wasn't enough as the Florida A&M University men's basketball team could not slow down a hot-shooting South Carolina State team on Saturday afternoon in an 81-65 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) loss at the Smith-Hammond-Middleton Memorial Center.
Florida A&M (4-12 overall, 2-3 MEAC) led by as many as nine points in the first half, but took a four-point lead into the break. South Carolina State (8-8, 3-1) shot 61.5 percent (16-of-26) in the second half to pull away for the 81-65 victory.
Core led four Rattler players in double figures with 13 of his 15 points coming in the first half. He also recorded a team-high four assists and three rebounds. Evins Desir finished with 12 points and a team-high six boards, while MJ Randolph tallied 12 points, two assists, two steals and one rebound. Rod Melton chipped in 10 points, three rebounds, two assists and one steal.
Damani Applewhite paced South Carolina State with a game-high 22 points, nine rebounds and one assist, while Jahmari Etienne added 12 points, three steals, three assists and two boards. Zach Sellers registered 10 points and three assists and Ian Kinard pulled down a game-high 10 boards.
How It Happened
South Carolina State led 9-8 early on, but Florida A&M used a 10-4 run to grab an 18-13 advantage after a pair of free throws by MJ Randolph with 11:17 left in the first half.
The Rattlers pushed the margin to 24-15 after a bucket by Evins Desir with 9:06 left, but the Bulldogs rallied with a small 7-0 run to trim the deficit to 24-22 after a 3-pointer by Jahmari Etienne with just over six minutes remaining.
Florida A&M extended the advantage to 32-25 as Nasir Core sank a 3-pointer with 3:26 left and South Carolina State closed the gap to 36-32 right before the break on a pair of free throws by Armani Hill.
A jumper by Damani Applewhite with 17:20 remaining tied the game at 38, but the Rattlers got a layup by Desir with 13:58 left, giving FAMU a 45-44 lead.
The Bulldogs used a 16-4 run over the next five minutes to grab a 60-49 lead after a jumper by Tariq Simmons with 8:32 left.
The Rattlers never got any closer than 10 points during the final eight minutes as South Carolina State picked up the home win.
Inside the Numbers
> Florida A&M shot 38.2 percent (21-of-55) from the floor and 68.0 percent (17-of-25) from the charity stripe
> South Carolina State was 27-of-49 (55.1 percent) from the field and 23-of-27 (85.2 percent) from the foul line
> FAMU registered 24 rebounds, including 14 on the defensive glass
> SCSU pulled down 39 rebounds, with 29 coming on the defensive end
> The Rattlers finished with 24 points in the paint, 19 bench points, 17 points off 19 SCSU turnovers, six second-chance points and two fastbreak points
> The Bulldogs recorded 36 points in the paint, 34 bench points, 15 points off 10 FAMU turnovers, 10 second-chance points and eight fastbreak points
News and Notes
> The Rattlers fell to 8-5 against the Bulldogs in the series since 2011
> Florida A&M has faced two nationally-ranked programs so far this season – #10 Seton Hall and No. 21 Tennessee
> FAMU picked up a signature victory on Dec. 31 against Iowa State (70-68)
> The Rattlers have only played two of their 16 games at home this season
> Florida A&M has travelled 24,898 miles this season, including its trip to and from Orangeburg, S.C.
Florida A&M returns home to face off against North Carolina Central on Monday afternoon for its Black Out/Coaches vs. Cancer/MLK Day game. Tip-off against the Eagles is set for 4 p.m. from the Al Lawson Center.