In their non-conference finale, the APSU men’s basketball team fell to the Florida A&M Rattlers 76-70, ending one of the nation’s longest streaks in the process.
Although the game may have only been a two-score loss, Tuesday’s contest was a demoralizing one for Governor fans, players and coaches alike. It seemed as though the Govs may be able to squeeze out the comeback with a late push, but the Rattlers kept APSU from accomplishing such a feat.
The Governors were participating in their second game in as many days, and such was evident early on. Just five minutes in, APSU trailed the Rattlers 10-5, forcing head coach Matt Figger to call his first timeout due to their stagnate offensive performance.
The contest was a back-and-forth battle throughout, with neither team able to create much separation from the other. The two teams would be tied at 34 after the first half, but the box score displayed a far different game after 20 minutes.
Florida A&M shot over 57% from the field and out rebounded the Govs 19-13 in the first half. The sole bright spot for the Governors was their perimeter offense, which drained six shots from beyond the arc on 14 attempts.
FAMU was able to outlast a fatigued Governors squad in the second half behind an electrifying offensive performance. After trailing by 11 with just over four minutes to play, the Governors began to show life for the first time in the second half.
A 7-0 run brought the game back within two-scores. APSU would cut the deficit to two with 34 seconds remaining, but the Rattlers would end up winning the free throw battle, coming away with the 76-70 victory.
With the loss, APSU snaps an 18-game home winning streak that began Feb. 21, 2019 — 663 days ago. After suffering their second disheartening defeat in seven days, head coach Matt Figger acknowledged that the loss is on himself more than any of his players.
“I have got to look at myself and question everything that I do,” Figger said. “I cannot sit and point fingers at someone else. I am the one that has put us in the situation we are in right now. I cannot show up and do the same things over and over and expect the result to change unless I change my approach myself. Players win games, coaches lose games.
“We can use excuses, but there is no excuse for coming out and being at times not in sync as a team and [looking] lost as a team…anybody who wants to blame me for it, I’m a big boy. I get paid a salary by this University to put the best product on the floor and, right now, I am failing in all aspects.”
After suffering an “embarrassing” 30-point defeat to Mu**ay State a week ago, the chemistry of the program may be in question. There have been multiple examples where the Governors look more like five individuals out on the court rather than one team. Figger addressed such an issue following the defeat.
“The connection between myself and this ball club right now is not what I thought it was,” he said. “We are more excited, right now, about ourselves than about our team when we as individuals do something compared to our team.
“Our team two years ago, there [are] photos of our team in the locker room, of guys cheering one another on and celebrating. Right now, we are just five fingers wandering about instead of being a fist. The fist is much stronger than five fingers, and that’s how were playing, like five fingers right now.”
With their non-conference season behind them, the Governors look to begin their full conference slate next week. First up, a rematch against Mu**ay State in front of a national television audience on ESPNU. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. in the Dunn.