Second half surge by No. 9 ranked Wheeling Jesuit too much for Rams as they fall 62-67

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Rams senior forward AJ Carr attempting a free throw in a previous home game. (Photo Courtesy of Shepherd University's Athletics Department)

The Rams traveled to Wheeling, W.Va., Saturday evening to take on the No. 9 ranked Wheeling Jesuit Cardinals in Mountain East Conference action, where the Rams fell short of a needed road win by a 67-62 score.

With the loss, the Rams are now 2-4 in MEC action and 3-6 overall on the season.

By the end of the first half against the Cardinals, the Rams were in the driver’s seat, as they held Wheeling Jesuit to just 26 points. Those 26 points were hard to come by for the Cardinals, as the Rams held them to 31 percent from the floor and just 23.1 percent from three-point range.

Freshman guard Brent Pegram of Wheeling Jesuit kept the offense afloat in the first half with his 13 points and three rebounds.

Rams sophomore guard Thomas Lang, senior forward AJ Carr, and Gavin McTavish each had seven first half points, as the team went to the locker room up 33 to 26. As a team, the Rams shot 45.2 percent from the floor and just 23.1 percent from three, as neither team could consistently find the mark from deep.

The second half was a different ball game as Wheeling Jesuit found increased success from the floor. The Cardinals hit on 50 percent of their attempts, including 46.2 percent from three-point range.

The Rams struggled a bit to find the bottom of the net at times in the second half, as they shot 33.3 percent overall and a slightly better 37.5 percent from three. Carr and Lang continued their momentum from the first half, as they both ended up in double-digits in points, as Carr totaled 18 and Lang had 17. McTavish also got in on the double-digit scoring effort, adding 12 points and four rebounds.

It was a close game throughout, as neither team could really separate from the other. With just under five minutes to go in the game, Pegram hit two free throws to tie the game at a 59-59 score. From then on, the Rams were unable to regain the lead as, Wheeling Jesuit was able to hit enough shots at the right moments to secure the 67-62 victory.

After the game, the head coach of the Rams, Justin Namolik, through email, offered his perspective and viewpoints on how the Rams came up short against the Cardinals. 

“We played very well defensively in the first half, and we executed our defensive principles very well. We had some lapses defensively in the second half, gave up some open threes, gave up a couple offensive rebounds that hurt us,” Namolik said. “Combine that with our offensive struggles in the second half, and we couldn’t finish the game. We need to finish stronger by being tough and disciplined.”

Carr, after the game, through email, also gave his post game comments on the close loss to Wheeling Jesuit.

“We had a defensive game plan that we executed well in the first half. In the second half, they got hot from 3 [three] and it’s something we didn’t anticipate,” Carr said. “We still played great defense overall, but in the last 5 [five] minutes they made plays and we didn’t.”

The Rams next opponent will be Chestnut Hill, as they will welcome them to Shepherdstown for Campers’ Appreciation Day on Saturday, Dec. 16, at 4 p.m.

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