Relentless Pioneer press finally overcomes Shepherd women
Shepherd scored the game’s first eight points, silencing the large number of Glenville rooters in the stands at the Butcher Center. Glenville’s wavelike units of pressure defenders hadn’t drained any Shepherd energy and hadn’t made the Rams change any of their pre-game plans.
Then with about 12 minutes gone in the first half, Glenville’s always-fresher legs began to exact the spate of turnovers and hurried shots it wanted to see from the Rams. And Shepherd’s early lead was no more. At first, the Rams trailed by only short deficits. But then Glenville’s leads grew longer . . . and the 550 or so fans it had on hand greeted the happenings with gusto and loud cheering as their favorites went on to a 77-66 conference win.
In typical Glenville fashion, the Pioneers had used five players at a time, with Coach Charles Mitchell often substituting multiple off-the-bench reserves for only 30 seconds or a minute at a time.
The always-fresher Pioneers scored 11 of the last 13 points in the first half to sprint to a 39-30 lead by the intermission.
The second half was more of the same with Mitchell making wholesale substitutes in a whirlwind of blue-clad bodies.
Shepherd was always willing and always finding enough points to stay competitive.
Reserve senior center Gabby Flinchum gave the Rams 11 of her 12 points, but made turnovers and went only 2-for-6 from the foul line. Flinchum had scoring help from Cara Mason (7-for-18 from the field), Briana Vaden (3-for-10 from the field) and Morgan Arden (3-for-9 on her field goal attempts), but the hurried and mostly pressured shots of the Rams were generally off-target.
Shepherd was 27-for-73 (37 percent) from the field and than included Flinchum’s 5-for-8 showing.
The Rams had a hurtful 20 turnovers, but the Pioneers finished with 19 floor errors in the sometimes messy happenings.
Shepherd’s high-water mark came when it trailed only 51-50 with 11:30 to play.
Glenville quickly answered with 11 straight points to move away to a 62-50 lead.
The game was always physical, always orchestrated by Glenville’s constant fullcourt pressure and at times sloppy and full of tension.
Shepherd was still alive into the last few minutes. But two inside drives for layups broke the game open a last time in Glenville’s favor and the visitors had a 67-57 lead with only three minutes remaining.
Kayla Tibbs (19 points) and Keyanna Tate (16 points) were Glenville’s best scorers and best marksmen, going a combined 12-for-19 from the field.
Shepherd had lost for the second straight time and third time in its last four games. The Rams had ceded first place in the Mountain East Conference . . . and suddenly faced an uphill challenge to finish in the top five in the final standings.
Glenville’s phalanxes had won the afternoon. And had brought the Pioneers back to relevance in the conference standings.