The Rams (19-10) beat the Notre Dame Falcons (16-13) 71-68 in nail-biting fashion to continue on in the Mountain East Conference tournament. From the tip the game was tightly contested as both teams gave immense effort. The first half was close between the two teams as the score of 31-27 with Shepherd trailing at the end of the period.
The Ram offense struggled and that showed with just 27 points. As a team the Rams shot 26 percent from the floor and junior guard Steffen Davis led the team with 8 points on 2-9 shooting in the opening half.
The second half is where Shepherd found their stride as a group by shooting a much-improved 48 percent from the floor.
The catalysts for the Rams offensive resurgence in the second half were junior guard Steffen Davis and junior forward AJ Carr. Davis had 15 points and 2 assists and Carr tallied 19 points and five rebounds. The game was not decided until the final 30 seconds as Carr hit the biggest shot for the Rams season when he nailed a three-pointer to put Shepherd up 69-68. The Rams closed the game out with three clutch free throws from Steffen Davis.
A possible overlooked aspect of the Rams win Friday night was the turnover differential. The Notre Dame Falcons committed 11 total turnovers, whereas Shepherd only coughed the ball up an impressive two times.
A notable performance came from Will Vorhees for the Notre Dame Falcons, as he led all scorers with 27 points on 10-19 shooting. Teammate Kyuata Taylor notched 22 points as the duo almost proved too much for Shepherd. However, with less than 30 seconds left in the game and the Rams up 69-68, Will Vorhees for the Falcons missed two free throws, and there is no doubt he wants those back.
After the tournament win Rams head coach Justin Namolik spoke about how his team needed to carry the momentum into next game as, “Fairmont state is the number one team in the country. It is going to be a challenge.” Namolik also said the team’s biggest focus for next game against Fairmont state would be, “that we have to handle their press, rebound, work to stay out of foul trouble.”
With the win on Friday night, Shepherd stays alive in the MEC tournament when they face off against No. 1 ranked Fairmont state in the tournament semifinals at 6 p.m. on Saturday.