With a 68-65 victory Wednesday afternoon in the first round of the Mountain East Conference tournament in Charleston, West Virginia, over the Bobcats (6-21) of West Virginia Wesleyan , the Rams (15-16) have advanced to the Quarterfinals.
In the first half of action, the Rams trailed 37-30. Despite shooting just 15-38 (39.47 percent) in the first half, the Bobcats held the lead.
Their defense caused havoc for the Rams early and often. Shooting just 9-of-28 in the first half (32.14 percent), the Rams faced serious doubts going into halftime.
Coming out in the third quarter, the Rams opened up the half on a 10-0 run to take a 40-37 lead with just over seven minutes remaining in the quarter.
Leading 54-50 after three quarters, the Rams had to do one thing they struggled with all season: closing out games.
A three-pointer by Mykenzie Martin of the Bobcats (12 points) trimmed the Rams’ lead to 56-55 with 6:15 to play. The Bobcats showed they were not going away without a fight.
During the whole fourth quarter, offense was hard to come by for the Rams. Their 14 points in the quarter was a testament to the grit and toughness the Bobcats displayed.
With just 00:53 left in the game, Stacy Remer (17 points) of the Bobcats made it a one-point game in favor of the Rams, with the score being 64-63.
Not wanting her career to end as a Ram with a first round exit, senior guard Cara Mason (16 points, game-best seven assists) delivered when it mattered most with a layup to stretch the lead to 66-63 with 00:29 left.
Two more free throws by Martin again with 00:27 made it a one-point game at 66-65 in favor of the Rams.
Mason would go on to make one-of-two free throws to earn a 67-65 lead with 00:11 left. The Bobcats called a timeout then to set up their final possession.
Martin launched a two-point jumper that did not quite go in, forcing the Bobcats to foul again with 00:02 left on the clock.
Junior guard Morgan Arden (19 points) of the Rams made the first free throw after being fouled, but missed the second. Tara Goldman (19 points) of the Bobcats was unable to get off a desperation heave and time expired, giving the Rams a thrilling victory.
Winning the second half by a 38-28 score, the Rams flipped the script in impressive fashion on the Bobcats.
Other contributors to the win were the play of junior guard Tiffany McKinney (11 points) and senior forward Liz Myers, who had a near double-double with nine points and leading the team in rebounds with nine.
One reason why the Rams were not able to put the game away earlier than they did was their horrendous free throw shooting: 14-of-25 (56 percent). In March Madness, anything can happen, especially when you let a team keep hanging around. The Rams got away with it this time, but might not be so lucky going forward.
Both teams fought hard and hustled on the glass, with the Bobcats gaining a slight 43-40 edge. These rebounds gave them 13 second chance points, compared to the Rams’ four.
On Thursday afternoon, the Rams will face the number-two ranked Wheeling Jesuit Cardinals (22-6 on the year). The Rams lost to Wheeling Jesuit both times they faced them this season: a 78-69 loss at home on December 3, 2016, and a 81-60 road loss on February 4.
Anthony Bracken is the Sports Editor of The Picket. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org