Shepherd goes overtime to trip rugged Gannon
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Opponents don’t get uncontested shots when playing against Gannon.
Opponents don’t get offensive rebounds against Gannon.
So when Shepherd scored the first nine points of the second half in what was undeniably going to be a low scoring game, it was a cornerstone to its 66-60 overtime victory against the Knights of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
Neither team could make even one-third of its field goal attempts. Neither team could find a definitive offensive tempo. That meant, the team with a slight edge in defensive toughness, and the one that could make a higher percentage of its free throws, would likely be the survivor.
Shepherd made 17-of-20 free throws after reaching the bonus at the foul line with 10:21 to play in the non-conference game. The Knights, even with usable depth that reached down to 10 players, made only 63 percent of their foul shots and they lost.
Shepherd freshmen reserves Joe Preston and Emmanuel Aghayere contributed mightily in the first half, but the Rams still trailed, 33-29, at the break between halves.
An eerie scoring drought from both sides for almost five minutes was finally shoved aside, when the Rams’ Thomas Lang and Devin Smith made consecutive baskets, to jump the Rams into a 55-49 lead with just 5:08 remaining.
Shepherd’s visit to the parched land of no scoring came again, and the Rams would not count any more points during regulation time.
Struggle as it might, Gannon did get a scattered five points in the last handful of minutes, to get the game into overtime.
The Knights had possession with 5.1 seconds left in regulation, but with no remaining timeouts, could barely manage an off-target 36-footer at the final horn.
In overtime, Gannon actually scored first, but Lang and Winston Burgess both counted two free throws, to send Shepherd ahead, 59-58. Lang’s drive with 1:57 showing gave the Rams a three-point cushion, and when Gannon mishandled two straight turnovers, the game was decided.
Shepherd had overcome a team with able players (and plenty of them), a team that annually wins its 20 games with rebounding, defense and close-knit unity, to win the two games of its season-opening tournament.