TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The South Carolina State Bulldogs gave the Rattlers of Florida A&M all they could handle before coming up short 75-72 in double overtime Monday night at Al Lawson Center.
Freshman forward Darryl Palmer scored a game-high 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while junior Matthew Hezekiah finished with 17 points and eight rebounds in the loss.
“It was an epic battle throughout the contest on both ends of the floor,” said head coach Murray Garvin. “We played tremendous down the stretch and great team effort.” The game was close throughout with 23 lead changes and 13 ties.
Hezekiah tossed in a jumper to give the Bulldogs an early 20-19 lead at the 7:20 mark in the first half.
A monster alley-hoop dunk from senior point guard Khalif Toombs to Palmer over a Rattler defender put S.C. State ahead three, 24-21, with 4:24 remaining.
Palmer responded again on another alley-hoop dunk, this time from teammate sophomore guard Devin Joint to push the Bulldogs’ lead to seven, 28-21, at the 3:36 mark.
FAMU cut the lead to two off a 3-pointer by guard Reggie Lewis with a 1:21 left in the half. Sophomore forward Luka Radovic closed out the first-half with a tip-in with 0:24 seconds remaining to give the Bulldogs a 30-26 lead at intermission.
FAMU guard Muhammad Abdul-Aleem kept the Rattlers within striking distance, knocking down back-to-back jumpers to take the lead 51-50 at the 6:59 mark. Palmer tossed in a jumper with 3:52 left in regulation to push the lead to three for S.C. State, 56-53.
Lewis’ jumper followed by a free-throw by Abdul-Aleem tied the game for the eighth time at 56. Hezekiah closed the gap, tossing in a pair of free throws to put the Bulldogs ahead by two, 58-56 with 1:14 left in regulation.
The Rattlers once again turned to the hot shooting of guard Muhammad Abdul-Aleem to decide their fate. Abdul-Aleem responded, nailing a jumper with 50 seconds left in the contest to tie the game 58 and force overtime.
FAMU took the lead early in the overtime, with forward Trey Kellum converting on a jumper to take the lead, 60-58. Toombs responded with a jumper, followed by a pair of free throws by Palmer to put S.C. State up two, 62-60, with 1:27 left in the game.
A tip-in by forward Walter Davis with 52 seconds left put FAMU ahead by one, 64-63. The Bulldogs’ efforts of forcing overtime or winning the game came to life as Joint was fouled by Davis with 51 seconds left. Joint converted on 1-of-2 from the charity stripe to tie the game for the 12th time and force the second overtime of the night.
S.C. State opened the overtime in full control, jumping out to a four-point advantage, 68-64, off a dunk by Palmer, followed by a slicing layup by Joint at the 4:08 mark. Lewis’ long range 3-pointer cut the lead to one, 72-71, with 2:48 remaining in the second overtime.
Rattler guard Jamie Adams gave FAMU the go-ahead basket with 2:27 left, 73-72.
Once again costly turnovers down the stretch doomed the Bulldogs in the closing seconds. Lewis along with Adams hitting a free throw put FAMU in position to seal the 75-72 victory over Coach Murray Garvin’s team.