Intense Rams go overtime to pass Concord
A peppery mixture of two intense teams spiced by quality play on both sides made Shepherd’s 97-94 overtime win over Concord on Monday at the Butcher Center an easy game to remember for all concerned.
It was a Mountain East Conference game witnessed by military veterans and a gallery of students back on campus for the first classes of the second semester.
The crowd was well-served as the teams rarely took a deep breath as they both served up sporadic pressure defenses and both shot well throughout. The pace was often rapid, but always controlled enough to keep away turnovers or muddled play.
It was Shepherd’s 12th win in only 15 games, while Concord’s deceptive-to-the-bone record was 5-10 after the disappointing loss.
Brantley Osborne and Austin Cunningham– Shepherd’s shining-armor guards — could look over at teammate Kevin Jones and see the player whose six points in overtime had been critical in the Rams’ hard-to-come-by prosperity.
Jones gave Shepherd the first points and the important lead in the overtime. His figures showed him going 8-for-10 from the field and scoring 18 points. If it hadn’t been for some foul trouble, Jones might have done even more.
Standing just as tall in Shepherd’s corner was center Morgan McDonald, the Rams’ only sentry as tall as 6-foot-6. McDonald and his 13 rebounds kept Shepherd from being completely overrun on the boards where they were beaten, 42-31, as it was. In going 8-for-12 from the field, McDonald added 19 points to the 24 Osborne counted and the 23 Cunningham contributed.
The Rams made 5-of-8 shot-attempts in overtime in outscoring the hard-luck Mountain Lions,15-12, in the five-minute extra session.
Neither team was blessed with much depth so the various contributions given by any number of players on both sides were necessary for the concerted pace each side wanted.
Concord trailed by six at halftime despite making 58 percent of its field goal tries.
Shepherd carved a shaky lead only because it had made 52 percent of its shot-attempts and was 14-for-17 from the foul line with Osborne going 10-for-11.
Marcus Pilgrim, Shepherd’s often-showcased sixth man, was troubled with first-half fouls and played only five minutes, but a hard-earned lead was in place anyhow.
Concord’s quick and confident group of seven contributors had little regard and no problems moving through the Shepherd backcourt pressure. It was only when the Rams discontinued their pressure that a second-half lead could be secured.
But even then the fiesty Mountain Lions had floored a roster full of jump-shooting success and rebounders enough to disregard any of Shepherd’s short, late-game leads.
Both sides gave a full effort. Both sides accomplished much.
But it was Shepherd which accomplished a polished conference win that kept it in second place behind only West Liberty in league play.