Wheeling Jesuit scoring run passes Shepherd men
Once trailing by nine points in the second half, Wheeling Jesuit went on an 11-point scoring run to overtake a Shepherd lead and then finish its comeback with the game’s last four points to win, 86-82, in a Butcher Center men’s game filled with intensity and foul shots.
Shepherd badly missed starting forward A.J. Carr, out with an arm problem, and lost its moderate lead because it wasn’t able to do much inside when facing a Cardinal zone that was only employed when the Rams had a 52-43 lead with about five minutes gone in the second half.
Wheeling Jesuit’s 2-3 zone kept the Rams on the perimeter and enabled the struggling Cardinals to vaporize Shepherd’s lead in only a matter of minutes.
At the same time the Cardinals employed their halfcourt zone they also began a concentrated pressure defense in the back court.
Shepherd got nothing easy against either defense and its once-promising lead had disappeared against the first-seen change of defenses.
Without Carr to trouble the Cardinals inside, Shepherd found fewer and fewer offensive rebounds and maintained contact with the new-found Wheeling Jesuit lead only because the Rams continued a game-long parade to the foul line.
The friendly foul line saw Shepherd make 12-of-18 free throws in the first half and another 17-of-21 foul shots in the second half.
But the Cardinals were not conceding the foul line to the Rams. And when Shepherd’s primary inside force, Morgan McDonald, got into foul trouble and eventually left with five personals there was no other player to provide the points and rebounding he took with him to the sidelines.
When the Cardinals inexplictedly quit their two help-take-the-lead defenses, Shepherd scored immediately and it was a 69-69 game with 7:26 to play.
Neither team had more than a five-point lead from that point to the loud ending.
Shepherd’s five straight points brought it another tie at 74.
Then in the last throes, the Cardinals called a play coming out of a timeout and Eric Siefert made an open three-pointer to give the visitors an 82-79 advantage that was soon equaled when Shepherd freshman guard Steffen Davis made three free throws.
When McDonald fouled out with 12 seconds left, the Cardinals made two more free throws. In the agonizing (for the Rams) last few seconds, Austin Cunningham (20 points) missed a layup and Shepherd fouled again with only four seconds remaining.
Both Cardinal free throws fell through and the final four-point margin was in place.
Wheeling Jesuit’s five-rebound margin was partial testimony to Carr’s absence. Mike Reed, who started in Carr’s place, didn’t score.
Davis, who had nine straight Shepherd points at one point — all in about a three-minute span — scored 19 points and made 8-of-10 free throws. McDonald left with 16 points and eight rebounds.
Siefert, Kyle Ritz (17 points and 10 rebounds) and freshman reserve Pat Moseh (15 points) were the Cardinals’ ring leaders.
Shepherd had lost for the third time in its last four games . . . and could not find an adequate replacement for the missing Carr.