Late Indiana surge nixes Shepherd upset bid
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Shepherd trailed nationally-ranked and unbeaten Indiana by a single point with 3:30 remaining.
Shepherd was outscored, 17-4, in the last minutes of the PSAC men’s game and lost 76-62 last Friday at the Butcher Center.
On a night when effort-giving defense held sway, the Crimson Hawks, now 10-0 overall, finally eased away from Shepherd’s game-long grip.
There were 12 ties and nine lead changes, so you know it was no ordinary 14-point win.
A closing run of successful free throws and long-range three-pointers from Ethan Porterfield and Chuckie Humphries literally pushed Indiana into the winner’s circle.
A telling 1-for-13 showing on second-half three-point attempts helped doom the in-it-for-37-minutes Rams.
Limiting Indiana’s offensive rebounds in the first half and getting all 10 of guard Thomas Lang’s 10 points had Shepherd sporting a 36-34 lead at halftime.
The first lead Indiana managed since the game’s earliest minutes came at 52-50 with about nine minutes left.
Both teams were on the bonus at the free throw line in the game-deciding minutes at the end, but it was the Crimson Hawks making the all-important free throws.
From beginning to end, both teams’ accuracy was severely tested by the hustling and shot-contesting defenses.
There were no fast break scores. Both sides had to register points in half-court offenses that were usually stymied in trying to find any open shots.
Indiana had the quickest players in Malik Miller and Armoni Foster and those two gone-to-the-basket players did score on occasional drives to in-close scores.
The general lack of offensive success did not seem to faze the Crimson Hawks. Maybe it was because the team was undefeated and undefeated teams seem to find some extra confidence, a general refusal to bend to defeat and a wellspring of late-game energy in order to keep defeat off in some unlighted corner.
It was not an ordinary 14-point game. It was not an ordinary NCAA Division II game at all.