Shepherd women overcome scoring droughts and missed shots
On a night that won’t make a highlight film, the Shepherd women were still able to find two mid-sized scoring runs that trumped their low-percentage shooting and uneven performance to get past Urbana, 71-66, and improve their overall record to 9-3.
Urbana had only eight players and were shrouded in a 1-10 record entering the Mountain East Conference game, but the Blue Knights seemed confident enough they could tame Shepherd. And they almost did as the messy Rams could never find a rhythm and hurt themselves with poor free throw shooting and only a 3-for-19 showing on three-point attempts.
But there were concerted scoring minutes at the very end of the first half and another 14-2 surge during a five-minute section late in the second half that brought the Rams safely home.
Despite making only half of their 20 free throws and having three starters combine to go only 5-for-26 from the floor the Rams were saved by the on-target shooting of reserves Morgan Arden and Gabby Flinchum, who together went 10-for-16 from the field, and starters Liz Myers and Rachel Johnson, who were 12-for-20 as a twosome.
After trailing, 22-21, Shepherd was able to outscore the Blue Knights 14-4 near the close of the first half and left at intermission with not-so-comfortable 38-30 lead.
But then a conventional 1-2-2 zone defense employed by the player-starved visitors shut off the inside to any Shepherd scoring.
It was a bare 52-50 Shepherd lead with just under 10 minutes remaining.
Then Myers made three steals in the next four Urbana possessions and the perilous lead mushroomed to 68-52.
However, in no time most of that once-prosperous margin had evaporated — gone to an Urbana scoring streak by the Blue Knights.
Missed Shepherd free throws in the last two minutes allowed Urbana to get back within 69-66. Two late free throws from Myers accounted for the final five-point margin.
Johnson finished the game with a slight limp, a budding injury the Rams can ill-afford since their 6-0 conference record will be in jeopardy when they hit the road for three straight games — at West Liberty on yesterday, at Virginia-Wise tomorrow and right back on Monday, January 12, at contender Concord. Three conference games away from the Butcher Center in only five days.
Myers, Flinchum, Johnson and Arden had all scored between 10 and 14 points. And the Rams stayed afloat in spite of a mediocre performance, one that shouldn’t be included in anybody’s scrapbook of college basketball memories.