The Rams (7-11, 4-6 MEC) went on the road and defeated the Notre Dame College (Ohio) Faclons 69-60 in overtime Monday afternoon on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Defense was the key in the Rams’ victory. Holding the Falcons to 24 first half points was crucial, as they allowed the Falcons to make just 10 of their first 26 field goal attempts. Shooting just 39 percent for the game, the Falcons had little answers for the stifling Rams’ defense.
For as good as the Rams’ defense was, the Falcons’ defense was just as good, if not better. Despite trailing 29-24 at halftime, the Falcons were well within striking distance.
In the second half, the scoring opened up a bit, as both teams started to find their groove. Making just 23 field goals during the game, the Falcons had to make them count. They did in part by making four three-pointers in the second half, helping to fuel their comeback run.
A three-pointer by Kyleigh Ramlow of the Falcons cut the Rams’ lead to 59-57 with 1:22 left in regulation.
After a missed jump shot by senior guard Cara Mason of the Rams, the Falcons’ Terrina Robinson attacked the basket and made a layup to tie the game at 59 with 00:31 left on the clock.
With a chance to win the game, senior forward Liz Myers attempted a layup with 00:07 left on the clock that missed, sending the game into overtime with the score tied at 59 all.
In the overtime period, the Falcons appeared to have ran out of gas, as the Rams won the overtime 10-1 for a 69-60 victory. A three-pointer by Tiffany McKinney opened up the overtime scoring, giving the Rams a three-point lead. A layup by Myers and four free throws from Mason cemented the hard fought road win.
The real x-factor in this game was the turnover battle: the Rams got 20 points off of 23 Falcons’ turnovers, while the Falcons were able to produce just five in return off of 13 Rams’ turnovers. With a gap this big in a game that could have gone either way, the Falcons did not take care of the ball when they really needed to do so.
Kelsey Miller of the Falcons had a great game, totaling a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Teammate Kim Cook lit up the scoreboard with her double-double of 15 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists as well.
Senior guard Cara Mason guided the Rams to victory with her stellar play. The Falcons had no counter to her 18 points, seven assists, five rebounds, and five steals.
Sophomore guard Kari Lankford hurt the Falcons in a variety of fashions with her 17 points, six rebounds, four assists, and three steals. The Falcons could not contain her. Senior forward Liz Myers hurt the Falcons on both ends of the floor with her nine points, team-high eight rebounds, and swatting away a game-high four blocked shots. Freshman guard Lauren Reed also chipped in nicely with her nine points.
After the game, Coach Eckleberry of the Rams had the following to say:
“It was a great team win. Kari Lankford had a strong game and managed tempo well for us. Cara Mason did a good job of scoring and finding the open man with seven assists. Liz Myers battled all game and led the team in rebounds with 8.”
“We managed the tempo and took care of the ball very well today. We defended the three well and tried to keep the ball away from the paint. One key struggle today was just coming up empty handed for numerous times down the court. ”
“The girls did a great job of buying in to the game plan. Buying in and then executing it was a testament to the girls[‘] focus and going out and making plays.”
The Rams will square off against Fairmont State University Thursday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. in the Butcher Center.
Anthony Bracken is the Sports Editor of The Picket. He can be reached at email@example.com