The Rams fell to (3-5, 1-3 MEC) on the season after a 78-69 home loss to the Wheeling Jesuit Cardinals Saturday afternoon, Dec. 3.
From the start, the Cardinals (7-1, 3-0 MEC) came out on fire, shooting 65.38 percent on their two-point field goals. They scored 24 points in the first quarter, giving them a good start offensively to the game.
The Rams were outscored 41-26 in the first half of action, even though they shot 42.31 percent on two-point field goals.
Creating turnovers and establishing their presence in the paint was key for the Cardinals in forming their lead. The Rams have displayed issues defending the paint at times this season, giving up 32 points inside. It also did not help matters that the Rams turned the ball over 14 times, which led to 20 easy points for the Cardinals to capitalize on, which turned out to be the difference in the game. Getting to the free throw line, particularly in the second half, was also a large factor in the Cardinals’ win, making 27-of-31 foul shots.
Monica Burns led the way for the Cardinals with 20 points, while teammate Jaana Motton caused problems for the Rams all night long by posting a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
The Rams would not go down with a fight though. Trailing in the fourth quarter, junior guard Kayla Tibbs made a three-pointer to trim the Cardinals’ lead to with two minutes remaining. However, much like they had all game, the Cardinals made free throws down the stretch to clinch the road victory.
As a team, the Rams had 32 points in the paint and 15 points off of turnovers, but could not get much of anything going in the second chance, fast break, or reserve departments.
Junior guard Morgan Arden recorded 24 points to lead all scorers in the game, going 8-of-14 from the field, including 2-for-2 from downtown. Senior guard Cara Mason filled the stat sheet with 15 points, six assists, and five rebounds. Junior guard Kayla Tibbs warmed up with two three-pointers that led to her 10 points in the contest.
For the game, Shepherd shot 45 percent and made 6-of-10 three pointers, while the Cardinals shot 52.3 percent and made 5-of-12 three-pointers.
The Rams did generate more turnovers (20-14 edge), but got handled on the boards by the Cardinals, who out rebounded the Rams 32-20.
After the game, Coach Jenna Eckleberry of the Rams commented on her team’s performance, saying, “We had too many unforced turnovers against a team that was not pressuring or pressing. Too many mental errors on defense.”
When asked what the turning point in the game was, Eckleberry said, “In the second half we picked up the intensity and defensive pressure. Everyone was flying and moving with the pass.”
Going forward, Eckleberry wants the team to keep working hard and getting better every day at practice. Playing together for 40 minutes was also another key she mentioned.
Next Saturday, the Rams hit the hardwood again when they travel to Goldey-Beacom for a 1 p.m. tussle.
Anthony Bracken is a Sports Reporter for The Picket. He can be reached at email@example.com