The Shepherd Rams men’s basketball team (13-8, 9-6 MEC) eclipsed the 100-point mark and scored a season-high 107 points in its 107-90 home victory over the Notre Dame College Falcons (5-16, 3-12 MEC) in the Butcher Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, on Thursday evening, Feb. 1. With the win, the Rams have now swept the season series against the Falcons.
Shepherd made the most three-point attempts in Shepherd and the Butcher Center’s history. The Rams made 19 of its 36 three-point attempts (52.8 percent), while the Falcons also tied the record by shooting 19-for-34 (55.9 percent) from beyond the arc.
Shepherd and Notre Dame combined to make 38 three-pointers, lighting up the scoreboard continuously throughout the game.
In the first matchup between these two teams back on Jan. 11 in South Euclid, Ohio, Notre Dame and Shepherd combined to make 33 three-pointers in a game that the Rams won by a 94-91 score.
Against the Falcons, senior guard Steffen Davis posted 22 points and shot 6-for-12 from beyond the three-point line, helping him exceed the 1,500-point mark for his career.
Notre Dame’s 55.9 shooting percentage from beyond the three-point line against the Rams helped keep itself within range of Shepherd throughout most of the game.
In a game where the three-point shot kept falling for both sides, the Rams were not able to put the finishing touches on the Falcons until the second half.
The Rams held a 52-40 lead at halftime, but their defensive woes, from the three-point line particular, prevented them from being able to hold off the Falcons for good.
However, Shepherd was able to take firm control of and seal the game by using the three-point shot as a decoy throughout most of the second half. The Falcons became so concerned with defending the three-point line that they allowed the Rams to get into a comfort zone with their mid-range game and allowed the Rams to get to the inside of their defense and convert layup attempts and draw foul calls.
This caused the Rams’ offense to continue to flow throughout the second half just as it did in the first half, with the Falcons never cutting the Rams’ lead to lower than seven points in the second half.
Shepherd senior forward AJ Carr put the icing on the cake for the Rams with the Rams’ final three-pointer with 17 seconds remaining that surely had to frustrate the Falcons even more than they already were.
Five players reached double figures in scoring for the Rams. Three different Rams made at least four three-pointers on a night where seemingly every shot was falling into the basket.
Shepherd sophomore guard Thomas Lang scored a team-high 27 points in part by shooting 7-for-9 from beyond the arc. Lang also compiled a game-high 10 assists to finish with a double-double on the night against the Falcons, as he was able to find his open teammates all night long.
After the game, via email, Lang explained how he was able to get open looks against the Notre Dame defense and knock his open shots down.
“Honestly I don’t think it was anything their defense was or wasn’t doing I just think my teammates were able to drive and create and I just happened to be the open guy and shots were falling,” Lang explained.
Carr posted a solid all-around game for the Rams, posting 16 points, five rebounds, and four assists in the winning effort.
It was a great shooting night for the Rams overall, as they knocked down 59 percent (36-of-61) of their field goal attempts. The Rams were able to get to the free throw line numerous times as well, where they converted on 16 out of their 20 attempts (80 percent).
Notre Dame found great success on the offensive end as well. The Falcons shot 55 percent (33-of-60) from the field, but shot just 5-for-10 from the free throw line.
Lang gave testament to just how difficult the Falcons were to defend.
“The problem for guarding them is that 1-5 they all can shoot lights-out so we constantly had to close out hard on them and they got hot from [three] 3 which is tough to guard,” Lang said.
In the loss, Notre Dame had four players score in double figures. The Falcons’ attack was headlined by redshirt sophomore guard Drew Scarberry, who posted a game-high 28 points and shot 7-of-13 from beyond the arc.
Falcons redshirt junior forward Angelo Cugini had a near double-double effort with his efficient 8-for-11 shooting display that helped him earn 18 points. Cugini compiled nine rebounds as well against the Rams.
Senior guard Kyauta Taylor shot 3-for-7 from beyond the three-point line, helping him finish with 16 points. Taylor also shared the ball extremely well for the Falcons, as he recorded a team-high six assists in the shootout against the Rams.
The Rams did a great job rebounding, coming out with 33 rebounds compared to just 25 for the Falcons. This helped the Rams hold the Falcons to just three second chance points in the contest, as the Falcons were only able to pull down three offensive rebounds in the entire game.
Following the game, Shepherd head coach Justin Namolik, via email, explained if he expected both teams to make as many three-point shots as they did.
“Coming into the game we stressed the importance of defending the three[-]point shot,” Namolik said. “However, we were not able to do that. Thankfully, we played very well offensively to win the game.”
Namolik also gave his thoughts on what the Rams can do better on the defensive end in Saturday afternoon’s matchup with Urbana.
“You have to give Notre Dame credit for their shooting, they are one of the best three[-]point shooting teams in the league. That being said, we need to raise our level of intensity on the defensive end for Saturday.”
The Rams will look to play a more complete game defensively when they host Urbana on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 3, at 4 p.m. in the Butcher Center.
Anthony Bracken is the Sports Editor of The Picket. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org