The Shepherd men’s basketball team came into the week hot and they continued to roll. The Rams traveled to the University of Virginia’s College at Wise in Mountain East Conference action and defeated the Cavaliers 77–69 in a close game that included 14 lead changes and seven ties.
Junior guard Austin Cunningham scored a team-high 20 points, hitting seven of his 10 shots, and he added five assists and four rebounds. Freshman Naim Muhammad did a little bit of everything, scoring 19 points with a terrific shooting performance of nine for 11 from the field while also adding six assists, six rebounds and three steals.
Brantley Osbourne added 14 points and five assists to help lead the Rams to victory. The Cavaliers leading scorer was Matt Day who put up a game-high 26 points.
Muhammad threw down a dunk with four seconds left in the first half to take a 32–30 lead going into the half. The Rams then took a 54–51 lead with 9:13 left in the game and never surrendered the advantage again.
Shepherd collectively shot 56 percent from the field in comparison to the 35 percent lackadaisical shooting effort from UVa-Wise. The Rams were out-rebounded 40 to 30 on the boards, but it did not factor into the outcome.
The Shepherd men’s basketball team improved their record to 18–7 on the season, which officially gave them a school record for number of wins.
Shepherd traveled to Concord on Saturday where they pulled out another road victory. The Rams defeated Concord 89–75 in a game that the Rams controlled a vast majority of the way.
Muhammad scored a career-high 21 points and hit nine of his 14 shots. Cunningham put up 18 points. Muhammad and Cunningham had three steals each. Osbourne added 16 points while Marcus Pilgrim added another 12. Morgan McDonald and Kevin Jones came up big on the boards with nine rebounds each.
Terry Hopewell of Concord gave a strong effort to try to help his team reach victory with 23 points and 13 rebounds, but it didn’t turn out to be enough. Concord pulled within nine points as it was 68–59 with 6:28 remaining before Shepherd went on a 10–3 run to seal the win.
The Rams shot 59 percent while hitting eight of 18 shots from beyond the three point line. Shepherd held its opponent to 46 percent shooting overall.
The Shepherd men’s basketball team continued to add wins to their school record-breaking season, improving to 19–7 overall and 14–6 in conference play where they remain in a second place tie with Charleston.
The initial Atlantic Region Men’s Basketball Rankings were released this week and the Rams were ranked fifth. The rankings included five Mountain East Conference teams in the top 10 and three teams in the top five. The rankings consist of the MEC, the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC), and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA).
The Rams have two remaining games left on their regular season schedule. Shepherd will host its final home game against West Virginia Wesleyan on Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m. Then, the Rams will travel to Fairmont on Saturday for the final regular season game.