The Rams fell to the Trojans of Virginia State Friday night by a score of 72-67. After a slow start to the second half, the Rams (4-8) mounted a comeback with their three-point shooting, but ultimately came up short against the Trojans (10-2).
Thanks in large part to their unusually large display of three-point shooting, the Rams built a 30-22 lead late in the first half. Their ball movement helped them find wide open three-point shooters who executed when called upon.
To end the first half of action, however, the Trojans went on an 11-0 run to lead them to a 33-30 halftime lead.
Starting the second half, the Rams dug themselves a deep hole that they ultimately could not get out of. Turnovers and an inability to stop the Trojans’ offense helped push the Trojans’ lead to as much as 16 points in the fourth quarter of action.
Needing to score quickly, senior forward Kristina Prange stepped up in a big way for the Rams, posting a game-high and personal best 19 points to spark the Rams’ comeback attempt. She made 6-of-8 field goals, including going 3-of-4 from downtown. After the Rams cooled down from their hot first half three-point shooting, Prange warmed them up in this department.
Trailing 70-67 with mere seconds left to play, the Rams moved the ball around, eventually getting the ball into Prange’s hands. She shot a contested three-pointer that rimmed out, so the Rams were forced to foul. After making two free throws, the Trojans held on for the hard-fought 72-67 road victory. The comeback attempt by Prange and the Rams ultimately came up just short.
However, Prange did not have to bring the team back by herself. Junior guard Kayla Tibbs was clicking on all cylinders with 15 points, scoring inside and out. Freshman guard Lauren Reed helped stretch the defense of the Trojans by being a constant three-point threat, finishing with 12 points. Senior guard Cara Mason led all players with six assists, also scoring five points. Senior forward Liz Myers caused headaches for the Trojans with her nine rebounds and stout defensive presence, recording a game-high three blocked shots.
Where the Rams really lost the game was on the defensive end. Despite going 10-of-25 from downtown themselves, they allowed the Trojans to go 8-of-19 in this department. The Trojans also lived in the paint, having their way with the Rams’ defense down low to the tune of 30 points. The Trojans’ reserves piled in 20 critical points to cement their lead. Coming up with loose balls, as Coach Eckleberry of the Rams said, was another criticial factor in the Rams’ loss.
Committing 20 turnovers and getting out-rebounded 40-35 did not help matters either for the Rams, who fought hard to get back into the game.
Nandi Taylor was a bright spot for the Trojans, finishing with 18 points. Taylor Daniels gave the Rams all kinds of problems with her enormous double-double of 16 points and leading all players with 18 rebounds.
For the game, the Rams shot 44.1 percent, with a 5-of-11 performance from the foul line. The Trojans shot 43.3 percent and 12-of-16 in these departments, respectively. In a game where the margins were so small, free throw shooting proved to be a main factor in the game’s outcome.
The Rams will try to add another win to the win column when they go on the road to face Concord on Jan. 3 for a 5:30 p.m. showdown.
Anthony Bracken is the Sports Editor of The Picket. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org