The Rams got a much needed home win Saturday afternoon as they took down the Blue Knights of Urbana University by a score of 88-70.
Early on, the Blue Knights had no answers for the Rams’ attack. Outscoring the Blue Knights 26-12, the Rams were clicking on all cylinders.
A large portion of their 49 first half points came from the Rams’ activity on the defensive end. Defenders swarmed to the ball, poked it free, and hopped on top of it. Upon getting the ball, the Rams raced up court and converted several layups or shots in the paint.
Scoring 27 points off of turnovers for the game, the Rams made the Blue Knights commit many self-inflicting errors that proved to be critical in the game’s outcome.
Two of the main Rams that capitalized on these golden opportunities were senior guard Cara Mason and senior forward Liz Myers. Mason posted an impressive double-double with 17 points and 10 assists. She continually got in the paint off of steals she often produced and converted them into easy baskets.
Myers scored on a variety of nicely-timed post moves and put backs. Just like Mason, Myers had a double-double, finishing a monster night with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Up 49-33 at halftime, the Rams were shooting 50 percent (19-38) compared to 40.74 percent (11-27) shooting from the Blue Knights.
As Coach Jenna Eckleberry of the Rams alluded to after game, in the second half, the Rams started shooting quick shots and not executing like they did in the first half.
On the defensive end, they did not come out with the same intensity they showed in the first half. The Blue Knights were able to pick and choose whether they wanted a basket in the paint or from mid-range.
Up by as many as 24 in the first half, the Rams’ lead dwindled to 10 after two converted free throws by Stefanie Davis of the Blue Knights with 3:16 to play.
Known to have given up leads before, the thoughts were no doubt sitting in the Rams’ minds as they played the final few minutes.
Junior guard Morgan Arden (15 points) countered with a jump shot with 2:07 to play that stretched the Rams’ lead to 80-68. She and teammate sophomore guard Kari Lankford (10 points) made huge free throws in the closing the game out and earning the Rams a win they really needed.
Tiffany McKinney also had solid game with her 12 point display.
The scoring for the Blue Knights mainly consisted of the play of Davis and Slyvia Hudson. Davis put up 23 points, while Hudson had a double-double with 21 points and 18 rebounds. Morgan Mattimore also chipped in with 12 points.
After the game, Eckleberry commented on her team’s performance:
“I think Cara Mason and Liz Myers got us off to a great start in the first half. I think they had 29 of our first half points. I thought everyone played well in the second half. Kari Lankford came back and had a great second half.”
Going forward, Eckleberry spoke to what the team has to improve on for their games next week:
“This late in the game, in a league that anyone can beat anyone, we just have to play our game. Wherever we go play, whoever we play, if we just stick to who we are and what we do, we’ll be fine.”
As of now, the Rams are seventh in the Mountain East Conference standings. The Blue Knights are last out of 12 teams in the conference.
Anthony Bracken is the Sports Editor of The Picket. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org