Lock Haven silences Butcher Center with closing sprint
SHEPHERDSTOWN — A burst of scoring from Shepherd had filled the Butcher Center with the loud roar of cheering.
The suddenly potent Rams had forged a 10-point lead from what had been only scraps of success. Only 3:39 remained in the hardscrabble battle between the Rams and conference rival Lock Haven.
But that cheering that lingered for a time in the rafters of the gymnasium was in minutes changed to a doubting silence as the Bald Eagles, behind the limitless scoring of Matt Cerruti, blotted out the Shepherd lead, scoring 14 of the game’s last 17 points, to win 73-72 when Cerruti made a driving layup with but 2.5 seconds to play.
The disbelieving crowd simply stood in place. There was no more noise. Just stares toward those around them. And the eerie silence brought by the loss that had seemed so improbable only minutes before.
Cerruti had 29 points in a grudgingly close game that had very few free throws by either team, hardly any offensive rebounds either way, only a scattering of turnovers and 18 lead changes.
It had been guard Thomas Lang giving Shepherd its scoring leadership in the second half. Lang had been shrouded in foul trouble in the first half. He didn’t score at all until only four seconds remained in the opening 20 minutes. And then he totaled 18 points in the last half, including a three-pointer with 12.7 seconds left that gifted the Rams with a 72-71 lead.
Lock Haven had hardly been a dynamic team with any sort of flair for an unlikely comeback. The Bald Eagles came in tied for last place in the PSAC’s East Division and carrying an overall 5-7 record. Shepherd brought a three-game, road losing streak, a 6-8 overall record, and burdened with a 2-6 conference mark.
Lock Haven’s four-point halftime lead seemed to mean little or nothing. Certainly not as much as Shepherd’s 69-59 edge with 3:39 left.
As the game asserted its flavor and rhythm, there were no fast break scores and very few uncontested shots, even on the perimeter.
The fourth consecutive Shepherd loss was a bitter pill to swallow, while Lock Haven had a victory to take back through the darkness to Lock Haven along with its pizzas for the players and coaches.