The Rams fell to 2-4 on the season after a road loss to the number eight-ranked Virginia Union University Panthers Monday night, by a score of 90-68.
In the first half, the Rams matched the Panther blow-for-blow offensively, as the Rams shot 40.63 percent in the first half. However, the Panthers led at the half by shooting just 35.00 percent themselves. The Rams did trail 38-35 at halftime, but their sharp-shooting kept them in pace with the Panthers.
The second half was an entirely different story, as the Panthers raced out to a 27-10 third quarter advantage to take a commanding lead. This was due in large part to the Panthers attacking the paint with ferocity, going right at the heart of the Rams’ defense with converting layup after layup. In total, the Panthers had 54 points in the paint, making their presence felt.
In the fourth quarter the Rams played near dead-even with the Panthers on the scoreboard (23-25), but in the end their comeback attempt fell way short. The third quarter deficit they underwent proved too challenging to overcome in the end.
While the Rams have been generating points all season from two-point range, they finally got the three-point shot going as a necessity after falling far behind, making nine of them as a team. Where the Rams really got outplayed was in the paint, scoring just 12 there while giving up 54.
Brittany Jackson and Lady Walker of the Panthers set the tone all evening for the Panthers, as Jackson had 30 points and Walker had an impressive double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds. The Rams just could not find a way to stop these two Panthers in particular all night long.
Generating 15 points off turnovers and having 33 points from the bench just was not enough to capture the road victory over the Panthers. They showed great energy by getting offensive rebounds, which led to 24 second chance points. Also, when the Panthers got the ball, they ran fast breaks excellently, to the tune of 37 points. The reserves chipped in as well, piling up 31 points that greatly contributed to the win. With the Rams allowing the Panthers to shoot 44.9 percent (35-78 from the floor), this did not help their chances as well.
The Rams, although suffering the loss, did have some reason to celebrate, as senior guard Cara Mason surpassed the 1,000 point plateau with six points on the evening. She also led the charge with six assists and four rebounds.
Junior guard Kayla Tibbs provided a spark with her three-point shooting, making three of five three-pointers that led to her 16 point outing. Senior guard Sammy Bane had 13 points, while senior forward Liz Myers had a near double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds. Junior guard Morgan Arden led the Rams in assists with seven on the evening.
Rebounding was without a doubt the x-factor in this contest, as the Panthers crashed the boards all night long, gaining a 58-35 edge in rebounds for the game. This set up many second chance points for the Panthers that was ultimately the dominating factor in the win.
The Rams will look to get on the right track with another road contest against West Liberty Wednesday night at 5:30 p.m.
Anthony Bracken is a Sports Reporter for The Picket. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org