Shepherd women fade in final minutes
The niceties of team-oriented play had not been successful.
The formalities of getting every player involved had only found visiting West Virginia State floundering behind Shepherd’s women.
A loss to a Shepherd team that had found only two wins all season was close at hand.
That’s when the Yellow Jackets gave Lexy Carson control of their offense and full control of the outcome of the Mountain East Conference game.
Carson never varied in her being able to revive the once-inert chances of the Yellow Jackets.
In a hugely successful series of dribble-drives, she took the basketball straight through the lane and scored. Sometimes it was a three-point play. At other times she converted two free throws or sprinted past her defender to score on a layup.
Carson simply dominated.
And her scoring spree enabled West Virginia State to outscore Shepherd, 17-2, in the final 3:44 of a game that the Lady Rams had held leads for the first 36 minutes.
In the Carson-led volley to the finish, West Virginia State had gone from trailing by 10 points to getting free to win, 85-80.
No fewer than 11 consecutive Yellow Jacket possessions had seen Carson (26 points) or Jordan Brock (20 points) knife through the softened Shepherd defense to keep the Yellow Jackets from suffering a wounding loss in the league standings.
For a full 36 minutes, Shepherd had been benefited by the scoring of Gabby Flinchum, Rachel Johnson and Jimyse Brown. Those three stalwards were joined enough by Cara Mason and Briana Vaden on the offensive end of the Butcher Center to find the Lady Rams with a 42-34 halftime lead that had been shepherded along throughout the second half.
When Shepherd had a 78-68 lead with only 3:44 remaining, the wraps came off the individual heroics waiting in the scoring of Carson and Brock.
Nobody else touched the ball for the surging visitors. Those two players were not discouraged by any Shepherd defender or team defense.
Despite Shepherd converting 15 of its 17 free throws and the Lady Rams taking 21 more shots from the field, it was West Virginia State and its two-person wrecking tandem bringing a win from what appeared to be a nasty loss. Carson and Brock weren’t phoenixes from the ashes, but they surely kept Shepherd from achieving its third win of what became a 2-14 season.
The Yellow Jackets actually scored 51 points in the second half.
Flinchum had 21 points and nine rebounds to go along with her turnover-free night. Johnson didn’t shoot well from the floor, but was 7-for-8 from the foul line, scored 16 points and handled nine rebounds. Brown was in the starting lineup for the second straight game and showed 11 points and seven rebounds.
If the game had been only 36 minutes long, Shepherd could have been showered with superlatives because it would have beaten a team that came in with an 11-6 record.
Instead, Carson and her helpmate, Brock, destroyed the Shepherd defense in the final 3:44, scoring 17 points between them to prevent a loss.