The Rams (8-11, 5-6 MEC) came through with a 64-54 home victory Thursday evening in the Butcher Center over the Falcons of Fairmont State University (9-7, 6-4 MEC).
Turnovers were a major problem for the Rams’ offense starting out. Whether it was due to tight pressure put on by the Falcons’ defense or self-inflicted errors, the Rams were not able to get into a good groove offensively early on.
For as many times as the Rams coughed up the ball, however, they were still well within striking distance at halftime with their defensive play. Fairmont State got off to a cold start offensively, but heated up a little bit in the second quarter with good ball movement that set up great shots.
A five point spurt by sophomore forward Liz Moorman of the Rams gave the team a small 17-16 lead, with the momentum seemingly going to the Rams.
This was countered by the Falcons going on a 14-8 run to end the first half, where the Rams’ offense was spitting and sputtering going into the break.
In the second half though, the Rams caught fire with their inside game. Senior forward Liz Myers (18 points, 12 rebounds) kept finding open passing lanes down low where her teammates found her and set her up with high-percentage layups.
Once the Rams started seeing they could have success down low, the lane parted like the Red Sea. Sophomore guard Kari Lankford (7 points, 7 rebounds) and junior guard Kayla Tibbs (15 points) attacked the paint at will, finishing with and-one opportunities at the free throw line.
Senior guard Cara Mason of the Rams had a nice all-around performance. She had five points and six rebounds. Her focus in the game, however, was clearly sharing the ball and getting her teammates involved, as she led all players with nine assists.
Defensively, the Rams made life uncomfortable in the second half. Their intensity picked up as they began knocking down shots on the offensive end. Many times, the Falcons were unable to penetrate the Rams’ defense and took difficult shots because of it. Despite a late scoring surge, the game was already out of hand for the Falcons.
Holding Fairmont State to 36.4 (20-55) percent shooting really keyed the victory for the Rams. Deidre Combs of the Falcons had a great impact with her 17 points and six rebounds. Her teammates, Amanda Ruffner and Gabrielle Etter, also poured in 14 and 11 points, respectively.
As a testament to how well both teams played at times defensively, neither side was able to establish much of a presence with their three-point shooting. The Rams did not appear to have the three-point shot as a major focus going into the game, making just 3-of-10 (30 percent) for the game. The Falcons seemed content with settling for shots from the outside, but perhaps a little too much so, as the team shot just 5-of-22 (22.7 percent) in this department.
When the Rams executed their offense with good ball movement, they set themselves up with great shot opportunities. Shooting 58.1 percent (25-43) was almost a necessity, as the Rams’ 27 turnovers gave the Falcons 29 free points to keep pace in the game. Once the Rams slowed down and did not commit self-inflicting mistakes, they were able to move the ball well and get good shots, as their 68.18 percent (15-22) shooting in the second half blew the game open for them.
Saturday, the Rams go on the road to face Glenville State for a 2 p.m. game.
Anthony Bracken is the Sports Editor of The Picket. He can be reached at email@example.com