The Shepherd University Rams men’s basketball team has improved their record to 13–3, following two wins this week against Concord University Mountain Lions as well as the Wheeling Jesuit Cardinals. At this point in the season, racking up conference wins is nothing short of vital, and it is something the Rams are doing with aplomb.
The first game of the past week took place at home in the Butcher Center on the 13th of January, when Shepherd was forced into overtime before eventually winning the game by a final score of 97–94 over the Concord Mountain Lions. Their two guards Brantley Osborne and Austin Cunningham, who combined to score 47 of the total 97 points, paced the Rams. Osborne, a senior, also added six rebounds and four assists to go along with his game high 24 points. Junior Austin Cunningham added a game high 8 assists as well as his high scoring output of 23 points. The loss dropped the Mountain Lions’ record to 5–9 on the season and sent them back to Athens, W.Va. with their tails between their legs.
Following the important win Monday night, the Rams had to wait until Saturday, Jan. 18 to play again, when they defeated the Wheeling Jesuit Cardinals 87–82 on the road. The Rams were down at halftime before they surged ahead in the second half, outscoring the Cardinals 44–35 in that half of play. Cunningham continued his strong recent showings, scoring a game high 20 points for the Rams. Osborne also had a solid performance, recording a double-double, finishing the night with 14 points and 12 assists. It was also a well-rounded game for the Rams as all five starters, as well as six of the total seven players scored double-digit points. Wheeling Jesuit’s record dropped to 6–7 and gave the Rams their third consecutive victory.
Coming up on the schedule, Shepherd will have two home games this week. The first will come on Thursday, Jan. 23, when the Rams will host the Fairmont State University Fighting Falcons, who sport a 10–5 record on the season, and are currently on a two game losing streak. The Fighting Falcons struggle on the road as opposed to home, as they have a 2–3 record on the road, compared to an 8–2 record on their home floor. The game will start at 7:30 p.m. in the Butcher Center.
After their match up with Fairmount, their next opponent will be the Yellow Jackets of West Virginia State, who currently sit at 7–6 on the year. This is not the first time these two teams have met, however. The Rams won their first game on the road against the Yellow Jackets back on Dec. 5 by a final of 89–83. However, WV State has won six of their last eight games. The game will take place Saturday, Jan. 25 at 4 p.m. in the Shepherd University Butcher Center gymnasium.
After those two home matchups, the Rams will hit the road. They will first head down to the capital of the Mountain State to take on Charleston. After their meeting with Golden Eagles, the Rams will continue their little road trip to Glenville where they will take on the Pioneers. If the Rams keep playing the way they are, they very well may be able to shock the Mountain East and finish above the much-vaunted Hilltoppers of West Liberty.