Rams press Kutztown into submission
SHEPHERDSTOWN — Shepherd was quicker and more lithe and athletic than was Kutztown.
So when the Rams initiated a full court press against the invading Golden Bears they scratched out a smallish lead, then expanded it, and moved away to an 11-point lead, before celebrating their 70-62 conference win.
Once the game had established its half-court tempo, and both teams had gone through their substitution patterns, it became clear that Shepherd had the more lethal scorers and were more athletic than the perimeter-minded Golden Bears, a team without a point guard or much of an inside force.
Shepherd could still have been beaten. But not if Sydney Clayton, Marley McLaughlin and Abby Beeman could be grouped together on the court and not fall prey to foul problems.
When that threesome logged their numerous minutes without deference to foul troubles, the Rams clearly presented more options than the more straight forward Golden Bears.
Even though Kutztown managed a 27-25 lead at the half, the Rams had never made the Golden Bears hurry or face fullcourt pressure.
Pressing the methodical visitors made the Kutztown ball handlers attempt to make passes or plays they couldn’t execute. And the Rams outgunned the visitors, 21-11, in the third quarter to take a 46-38 lead in to the final period.
Shepherd went away from its effective press in the last quarter and kept McLaughlin and Clayton from fouling out, once grabbing a 53-42 lead when Clayton scored repeatedly inside against defender Gabbi Wright.
Clayton, McLaughlin and Beeman all scored in double figures with Clayton adding eight rebounds and Beeman doling out 13 assists and collaring seven rebounds herself.
The Rams improved their Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference record to 8-5 and went to 14-5 overall, while Kutztown slipped to 8-5 in the league and 11-8 overall. Shepherd’s next assignment came two days ago at the Butcher Center when it faced surging Shippensburg, tied for the East Division lead and holders of a 12-6 overall record in games through Jan. 24.