Shepherd men’s basketball falls to Fairmont State 81-66

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Shepherd senior guard Steffen Davis (2), pictured here in the Rams' home victory against West Virginia Wesleyan back on Jan. 17, and the Rams clicked on all cylinders offensively against Wheeling Jesuit, helping the team earn a 99-88 home victory. (William Ransom/The Picket).

(Rams senior guard Steffen Davis in the team’s last home game against West Virginia Wesleyan on Wednesday evening, Jan. 17. William Ransom/The Picket).

The Rams lost to the Fairmont State Falcons on the road in Fairmont, West Virginia, by an 81-66 score Saturday afternoon Jan. 20, their first loss since Dec .9 against Wheeling Jesuit. 

The Rams battled back from a sub-.500 record with the eight-game winning streak, as their record now stands at 11-7 on the season.  

Luck did not seem to be on the Rams’ side, as the team had a collective off night shooting the ball.  

From beyond the three-point mark in the first half, Shepherd hit on just one of its eight attempts from long distance.  

The first half ended with the Falcons leading by a 36-29 score. If the Rams had converted on just three out of their eight attempts from beyond the arc in the first half, perhaps the outcome would have been different.  

The Rams also failed to fully capitalize on free points in the opening half, as they shot 60 percent (6-for-10) from the free throw line.  

Junior guard Derek Mcknight was the lone Ram to reach double figures in scoring in the first half by scoring 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the floor. McKnight finished the game with 14 points and was the team’s second leading scorer overall behind sophomore guard Thomas Lang, who posted a 17-point outing.  

The shooting woes continued into the second half for the Rams, as they continued to misfire from long range. The Rams shot 2-for-13, or 15.4 percent, from three-point range in the second half, as the open looks would not fall for them.  

In the second half, Fairmont State also struggled from behind the arc, shooting 2-for-12 or 16.7 percent. However, the Rams fell behind for good with just under 15 minutes remaining in the game after a layup by Fairmont State’s sophomore forward Andrew Emrick, which made the score 46-45 in favor of the Falcons.  

The Rams were unable to hit enough shots to regain the lead. Around five minutes remaining, the Falcons began to pull away for good, as their execution offensively was simply better than the Rams’ down the stretch. 

Five players scored in double figures for Fairmont State, with a team-high 17 points coming from redshirt-senior guard Caleb Davis, who also added eight rebounds and three assists. Davis and Lang would finish in a tie for the most points overall in the game.  

Following the game, Rams head coach Justin Namolik, via email, commented on his team’s defensive struggles after the game, which included allowing 50 points in the paint.  

“We did a poor job defending them off the dribble which allowed them to get into the paint,” Namolik said. “Combine that with our poor defensive rebounding that led to their offensive rebounding put backs and they were very effective in the paint.” 

Namolik explained what he believed the Rams have to work on before they go on the road to face the West Liberty Hilltoppers in West Liberty, West Virginia, on Wednesday evening, Jan. 24. 

“West Liberty and Fairmont are completely different teams,” Namolik explained. “West Liberty is going to press the entire game and we are going to have to handle the press.” 

Wednesday evening’s matchup between the Rams and the Hilltoppers will begin at 7:30 p.m.  

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