The Rams (11-7, 8-4 MEC) delivered a 84-79 road victory Saturday afternoon over the Pioneers (8-8, 5-7 MEC) of Glenville State.
Establishing a presence in the paint was instrumental in the Rams’ victory. The 42 points they scored down low really were a major source of their offensive output.
Getting 21 points off of Pioneers’ turnovers gave the Rams a great spring in their step. Even though the Pioneers only turned the ball over 11 times, the Rams made their turnovers count and produced easy buckets because of it.
Despite how well the Rams were playing, the Pioneers would not go away. As Coach Namolik of the Rams alluded to after the game, the Rams struggled to defend the three-point line. The Pioneers made 12 three-pointers, which cut into the Rams’ lead significantly.
A layup by Darhius Nunn of the Pioneers made the score 69-65 in favor of the Rams with 6:27 to play. The home crowd was getting into it, and the Rams appeared to be in serious trouble.
Sophomore forward Winston Burgess (Rams’ high-scorer with 18 points, 7 rebounds) of the Rams countered with a layup and a dunk that silenced the crowd a bit. Burgess’ dunk gave the Rams a 73-65 lead with 5:01 to play.
The teams went back-and-forth down the stretch, exchanging blows with their clutch baskets. Brett Morris (game-best 23 points) of the Pioneers converted a layup that cut the Rams’ lead to one at 80-79 with 1:14 left in regulation. Morris was fouled on the play, but missed the tying free throw.
A missed three-pointer by Jalon Plummer (18 points) of the Pioneers with 00:36 remaining forced the Pioneers to foul and send the Rams to the free throw line. Junior forward AJ Carr (17 points, 5 assists) of the Rams converted both foul shots to give the Rams a 82-79 lead with 00:17 to play.
Jon Dunmyer of the Pioneers then countered with a missed three-pointer, but the Rams grabbed the rebound and raced down the floor. Senior guard Naim Muhammad (16 points) of the Rams flushed home the game-clinching dunk with 00:01 to play.
Other notable Rams’ performances came at the hands of junior guards Skyler Roman (12 points) and Steffen Davis (11 points), while sophomore forward Gavin McTavish posted a double-double with 10 points and a game/personal best 13 rebounds.
Brook Ely of the Pioneers was another scoring threat of the Pioneers, as he totaled 13 points.
The Pioneers pushed the Rams to the limit, but could not convert when it counted most. Ironically, the three-point shot, a strength of the Pioneers throughout much of the game, failed them when they needed it most.
After the game, Coach Namolik of the Rams commented on his team’s performance:
“It was a total team effort with six guys in double figures but Winston Burgess and Gavin McTavish were big on the glass.”
“We took care of the ball and rebounded well. We struggled to defend the 3 but they are a very good three point shooting team.”
Looking ahead to UVa-Wise, Coach Namolik had the following to say:
“After playing 8 games in 19 days, we are going to take Sunday and Monday off to get some rest and get healed up. We did not play well down at Wise, we are going to have to do a better job of guarding their two forwards, Badmus and Sosa who hurt us [last time].”
Next Thursday, the Rams will look to build off of this win when they host UVa-Wise in a 7:30 p.m. match up.
Anthony Bracken is the Sports Editor of The Picket. He can be reached at email@example.com