The Rams went on the road to face the Ohio Valley Fighting Scots on Jan. 21, winning 95-80. Sophomore guard Austin Cunningham led the way with 27 points, five rebounds and four assists. This was a new career high in points for the former Fighting Scot, making his return to his old school an impressive one.
Cunningham’s scoring was efficient as he went 9-15 from the field and 7-7 from the free-throw line. Senior forward Chad Moore posted his eighth double-double of the season, scoring 17 points and snagging 12 rebounds. Senior Sidney McCray had a double-double as well, with 17 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. Junior forward Kevin Jones was a perfect 6-6 from the field, adding 13 points and nine rebounds, one shy of a double-double himself.
Ohio Valley’s biggest contributors were senior guard Ashton Brown and freshman guard David Sinickas. Brown had 27 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Sinickas scored 20 points.
Shepherd trailed at the half 44-41, mainly due to their shooting 36.4 percent from the field. Ohio Valley shot 47.4 percenet in the first half.
The Rams got more people involved in the second half behind their improvement on assists. They had 10 as opposed to only four in the first half. It also helped that they shot 54.5 percent for the half as well, scoring 54 points while holding the Scots to only 36 points. Shepherd made a point to drive to the basket, cutting down on their three point attempts while getting to the free-throw line more. They shot 15-21 from the charity stripe as opposed to only 6-7 from the first half.
The win put the Rams at 11-5 overall and 8-4 in the WVIAC. Ohio Valley fell to a dismal 3-14 and 2-9 in conference play.
Up next, Shepherd travelled to Bluefield State to take on the 1-16 State Blues. If that’s not an apt name for a team with only one win coming into the game, I don’t know what is. Bluefield State pulled off the shocking upset, 92-83, behind the effort of senior guard Roy Cooper with 24 points.
The Rams’ main source of offense came from Chad Moore. He totaled 25 points, seven rebounds and four steals. Junior guard Brantley Osborne had 18 points and five assists. Sophomore forward Morgan McDonald tallied his fourth double-double of the season with 12 points and 14 rebounds. Austin Cunningham chipped in with 10 points and five assists.
The Rams once again trailed at the half, 50-46. They shot 3-15 (20 percent) from three point land. Unlike against Ohio Valley, they continued to fire away after halftime. They shot 4-15 (26.7 percent) in the second half. They also had very few free-throw attempts, going 8-13 (61.5 percent) for the whole game. This was a departure from their average of 27 attempts per game. The Blues were 21-27 (77.8 percent) from the charity stripe.
The loss puts Shepherd at 11-6 on the season, 8-5 in the WVIAC. Dating back to last season, the Blues had lost 39 games in a row until putting together back-to-back wins against Glenville State and Shepherd. The last time they had two consecutive wins was in February 2011. They improve to 2-16 on the year and 2-12 in the WVIAC.
The Rams return home on Jan. 28 to face the Pitt-Johnstown Mountain Cats. The Mountain Cats are 11-7 and 7-7 in WVIAC play. Shepherd’s last win over Pitt-Johnstown on Jan. 3 broke a four year winless streak against the Mountain Cats.