Rams lose second straight to UVa-Wise

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Rams forward AJ Carr attempting a shot in a past home game. (Credit: Shepherd University Athletics Department)

The Rams (14-10, 10-8 MEC) traveled to Wise, Virginia, to take on the UVa-Wise Cavaliers (11-13, 9-9 MEC), where they lost their second straight game by 70-63 in the second meeting of the season between the two squads.

The Cavaliers, who lost to the Rams in the Butcher Center on Jan. 6 by 85-71, were able to exact revenge against Shepherd, as they returned the favor of handing out a road loss against their Mountain East Conference foe.

With the loss, the Rams’ record stands at 14-10 and now 10-8 in MEC action. UVa-Wise improved to 11-13 and 9-9 in the MEC.

It was another tightly-contested loss for the Rams, where a couple missed shots turned into makes could have altered which team left with a “W” in the win column, as the Cavaliers sealed the victory on free throws with under 30 seconds remaining.

Losses such as these are tougher because of the numerous lead changes that occurred and the fact that the Rams ended the first half up 33-32 behind an 11- point first half by senior forward A.J. Carr.

Rams head coach Justin Namolik elaborated on that point after the game when he said, via email, “We need to regroup. Three of our last four games are at home and we need to defend our home court. This is the toughest time of year and I know our team is ready for the challenge.”

The Rams finished the first half with the lead despite shooting 1-for-9 from behind the three-point line.

Shepherd’s shooting woes from behind the arc continued into the second half, where the Rams shot 2-for-8. Sophomore guard Thomas Lang made both of the Rams’ three-point field goal attempts in the second half.

It was a back-and-forth contest between the two teams. The game was tied at 54-54 with 6:15 remaining in the game after a layup by Rams junior forward Winston Burgess. Burgess finished the game with 11 points and eight rebounds.

Cavaliers senior forward Taiwo Badmus made his dominant presence known in the final six minutes, as he accounted for 10 points and one assist, steal, and rebound. Five of his 10 points came at the free throw line in the final minutes.

The Rams finished the game with an impressive 42 points in the paint compared to 20 from UVa-Wise in a game that Shepherd could have won if a few bounces of the ball went a different way.

Lang finished the game as the Rams second leading scorer with 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting with six assists and just two turnovers.

The Cavaliers had 13 made three-pointers compared to just three for the Rams, which was an important concept that Namolik acknowledged and elaborated on after the game.

“The difference in the game was three-point shooting. We couldn’t limit their threes and we didn’t shoot well from three.”

Burgess was the third and only Ram to score in double digits for the game, finishing with 11 points on an efficient 5-for-7 shooting effort. In his junior campaign, Burgess is averaging just under 12 points per game.

Badmus finished the night as the game’s top scorer, dropping 31 points and 12 rebounds on 10-for-21 shooting.

The Cavaliers and Rams split the season series, as each lost to one another on the road.

Rams senior guard Steffen Davis also hit a three pointer in Saturdays game which tied him with current assistant coach Brantley Osborne for all time made threes at Shepherd with 315.

The Rams will continue to position themselves for MEC postseason action in their next game against West Virignia State on Thursday, Feb. 15, at 7:30 p.m., when they welcome the Yellow Jackets into Shepherdstown.

Vaughn Brewer is a sports writer for The Picket. He can be reached at vbrewe01@rams.shepherd.edu