Near perfect start pushes Rams to women’s quarterfinals
SHEPHERDSTOWN — The initial steps weren’t baby steps.
In Shepherd’s first-ever women’s basketball game in a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference tournament, the Rams butted visiting Lock Haven with a smooth start that had them taking a 10-0 lead and holding the Bald Eagles without any points for fully six minutes.
The lead was increased from that point in the opening quarter, and Shepherd moved into the tournament’s quarterfinal round with an 81-59 dispatching of the Bald Eagles.
It was Shepherd’s 21st win of the season and sent it to top-seeded Shippensburg two nights ago on March 4. Lock Haven’s early silence meant a 13th loss against its 15 wins.
With Sydney Clayton snuffing Lock Haven shot-attempts, it was as much the Shepherd defense as it was its offense that smoothed the way to an early advantage. Clayton had already blocked three shots in the game’s first 2:50 of play. She finished with six blocks.
After the Bald Eagles finally found the net with a shot, Shepherd prospered again near the close of the opening quarter, taking a comfortable 22-8 lead into the second period.
At least Lock Haven kept the tempo of the game at a pedestrian pace, forcing the Rams to score nearly always from their set, halfcourt offense.
There were little or no spread courts for Shepherd point guard Abby Beeman to operate through. No running. No fast breaks. No transition scoring at all.
By the time it had moved to a 41-24 lead at the half, the Rams had converted 61.5 percent of their floor attempts, including a 50 percent showing on three-point tries. The still struggling Bald Eagles were 0-for-10 from three-point range.
All of Shepherd’s leading scoring lights shot well. Clayton’s 19 points partially came on 8-for-10 from the floor. Beeman’s 18 points were achieved with a 7-for-13 performance; and Marley McLaughlin totaled 16 points on 7-of-8 accuracy. Jordan Smith showed 12 points with 4-of-7 shooting. Beeman had a season-high 14 assists.
Shippensburg, which defeated the Rams in both of the teams’ regular season games, awaited after one day of preparation between tournament games for Shepherd. The Red Raiders were awarded an opening-round bye for their excellent regular season work.
Shepherd’s second-ever step in PSAC tournament play wasn’t likely as untroubled as its first had been.