Senior guard Morgan Arden was unstoppable in the fourth quarter, helping bring Shepherd University (5-4, 2-3 MEC) back to tie the game against West Liberty (3-6, 2-3 MEC), which would ultimately lead to a 79-72 overtime victory at home Wednesday, Dec. 6, in the Butcher Center in Shepherdstown, W.Va.
In the early going, Shepherd sustained themselves on offense and defended the interior well on defense. Junior guard Kari Lankford gave West Liberty’s guards a hard time, as she drove to the basket and finished strong.
The Rams shot 44.83 percent from the floor in the first half, continuing to attack the inside of the Hilltopper’s defense. The Hilltoppers, on the other hand, took a lot of shots from beyond the arc, shooting 4-of-16 from three-point range. They still managed to stay in the game, however, thriving off of Shepherd’s 21 turnovers and converting them into 29 points.
Shepherd, however, would go into halftime leading by two with a 32-30 lead.
In the second half, the Hilltoppers got off on the right foot, shooting 54.84 percent from the floor and 41.61 percent beyond the arc. They would take the third quarter by a 22-11 score, building their lead to nine points in the process.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Arden came off a screen to pull up and knock down a jumper. Shepherd would continue to run the pick and roll with freshman forward Sydney Clayton and Arden. If Arden did not have the shot, she would pass it to Clayton right under the basket, but if she did have the shot, she took it and knocked it down.
The senior took things into her own hands in the fourth quarter, as she had the whole Butcher Center rooting for her when she got the ball.
Shepherd and West Liberty continued to exchange baskets in the fourth quarter, as both teams competed tremendously hard.
The Hilltoppers kept feeding the ball to Marissa Brown, a 6’3” junior forward. Brown led her team in scoring with 25 points, pulling down seven rebounds in the process as well.
With 29 seconds left in the fourth quarter, junior guard Kayla Tibbs knocked down a clutch three to give the Rams a 70-68 lead.
Needing a basket to tie the game, the Hilltoppers got the ball to Brown, who tied the game on a layup with 18 seconds left.
Arden missed what would have been the winning shot in the final seconds of regulation, as time expired with the score tied at 70-70.
In overtime, Shepherd took control with a pestering defense, only allowing two points. On offense, the Rams spread the floor, trying to get their shooters open. This ended up working out, as Tibbs knocked down a three. Arden would also knock down a mid-range jumper later on in the overtime session.
The Rams outscored the Hilltoppers 9-2 in overtime, cementing the win with their stellar defensive play.
It was a great home victory for the Rams, as they displayed great composure in the final minutes of the fourth quarter and in overtime.
The Rams will look to win their second game in a row when they travel to face Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, W.Va., on Saturday, Dec 9, at 2 p.m.
Justin Cole is a Sports Writer for The Picket. He can be reached at email@example.com