Second-quarter spree gets Rams past Fairmont
Scan through all the statistics, runs of points and eye-test impressions of the Shepherd vs. Fairmont women’s basketball game and you’ll come back to the Rams’ domination of the second quarter as the definitive reason they defeated the Falcons, 74-64, to complete the regular season.
Shepherd scorched the Falcons, 24-7, in the telling quarter, successfully erasing an eight-point deficit and moving to a 36-27 lead at the half of the conference match.
Reserve Lauren Reed helped the Rams not only overtake the faltering Falcons, but sprint past them toward halftime.
Shepherd’s fullcourt press negated any planned response from Fairmont that could have led to scores and foiled the game-turning strategy.
The Rams outpointed Fairmont, 12-2, to begin the turn-around quarter. After moving in front for the first time, Shepherd continued to pester beleaguered Fairmont point guard Ozge Yarga, and began to distance itself from the flagging Falcons.
Morgan Arden was a consistent scorer for the Rams throughout the opening half.
Brooke Kurucz – Fairmont’s one persistent fly in Shepherd’s ointment – shed her early foul troubles and returned to keep the Falcons close. Kurucz scored 19 points in her foul-filled afternoon. Sierra Kotchman, who had the ill-fated assignment of guarding Arden, couldn’t damage the Shepherd guard’s scoring but did have 19 points herself.
Arden had 21 points to finish her career, and went off to the MEC tournament with the eighth-seeded Rams as the school’s all-time leading scorer. Shepherd closed with a 14-14 record and faced ninth-seeded Charleston in a first-round tournament game. Had the Rams won that game, they would’ve seen top-seeded, once-beaten Glenville in the quarterfinals.
Shepherd released its press in the second half, but Fairmont’s continued drought from long range – 3-for-17 on three point tries – had the Rams ever increasing their lead.
It was 55-39 after three quarters, with the Rams comfortably in front and repulsing any Fairmont movement toward their lead. Fairmont couldn’t dent the Shepherd advantage with quick three-pointers and had no other threats besides Kurucz and Kotchman to harm the Rams. Fairmont’s side was missing quickness and quality depth.
The Falcons finished without Coach Steve McDonald, who was banished when Fairmont had two technical fouls called on its bench.
Kari Lankford provided Shepherd with 16 points and eight rebounds in the regular season finale. A pregame ceremony focused on three Shepherd seniors: Arden, Tiffany McKinney and Jazmyne Howard.
After a slow start and trailing 8-0, the Rams smothered Fairmont in a 36-19 scoring blanket that decided the outcome by midway through the third quarter.