Points flow freely in second half of Shepherd victory
Nationally ranked Wheeling Jesuit scored 62 points in the second half of its game against homestanding Shepherd but still lost by 11 points, 99-88, because Shepherd scored 65 points in that half.
The Cardinals trotted into the Butcher Center ranked 19th in the nation in Division II, and had only three losses.
Shepherd entered the night with consecutive losses to Fairmont and West Liberty, two of the kingpins in the Mountain East Conference.
After a grinding first half, in which points escaped both sides for the most part, the last half produced a combined 127 points.
Scoring almost 100 points after having only 34 points at halftime was a rare sight in college basketball.
Once the Rams repulsed Wheeling Jesuit’s zesty attempts at erasing their lead, the game became brutish at times with the Cardinals getting as physical as possible and Shepherd backing down from nothing – and then mastering the free throw line to gain the important win.
Six Rams scored in double figures. That outdid the frequent shot attempts of all-conference players Haywood Highsmith and Pat Moseh, who tallied 31 and 23 points respectively.
Shepherd point guard Thomas Lang began his scoring early and continued to the very end, where his unerring free throw eye left him 10-for-10 from the foul line. Lang totaled 23 points to put him at the head of the double-figure line that included Cam Stephens, AJ Carr, Steffen Davis, Devin Smith and Derek McKnight.
Shepherd canned 35-of-43 free throws, while the Cardinals had only themselves to blame for a 23-of-37 (62 percent) showing from the foul line.
The frequency of the fouls whistled signaled the intensity of the struggle through much of the second half. Wheeling Jesuit was tagged with 29 personal fouls and a lone technical on the bench. Shepherd had two players foul out and was nailed with 24 fouls.
With the loss-stopping win, Shepherd improved overall to 12-8 and to 8-6 in conference games. The Cardinals left the raucous Butcher Center with a 15-4 overall mark that includes an 11-3 conference record.
Shepherd had eight games remaining with only Fairmont, at home on Feb. 24 to close out the regular season, left against the league’s Big Three: West Liberty, Wheeling Jesuit and Fairmont.
Free throws and a 65-point second half had lifted the Rams over the Cardinals, who lost even with a 62-point half.