Moore, Bryant take control as Cardinals defeat Shepherd women
When conference championship contender Wheeling Jesuit found itself in lock step with Shepherd . . . and the second half slowly drifting toward the record books . . . the Cards purposely loosed Chenelle Moore and Jaila Bryant to work their scoring magic against the Rams’ upset plans.
The twosome provided just enough scoring juice to hold Shepherd at arm’s length . . . and the Cardinals had a 66-58 win to add to a sparkling overall record that read “18-3” and “13-2” in the Mountain East Conference.
It was a 29-29 competitive scramble at the half. And Wheeling Jesuit led only 45-43 after three quarters.
But then Bryant, shackled and on the bench with four fouls, returned and she and Moore both seemingly took turns spurning Shepherd’s upset notions.
Moore scored 20 points and had 10 rebounds and Bryan rattled in 7-of-8 shots to score 16 points and claimed six rebounds in only 13 minutes of playing time.
A productive second quarter carried Shepherd from a 23-16 deficit all the way to a 29-29 stalemate by halftime.
When Bryant was whistled for her fourth foul with still 5:32 remaining in the third period, the Rams actually moved to a short lead before Moore scored six straight points to keep Shepherd from further asserting itself.
The Rams had made their point . . . made it loud and clear, that they would not be a paper tiger on their home court. But hustle and even determination could not match the talent brought by Wheeling Jesuit. With no players among the nine used by Coach Debbie Buff coming from a West Virginia high school, the Cardinals eventually proved to be too tall, too trim and athletic, and a better rebounding team than the mostly inexperienced Rams, who had four first-year players among the eight tried by Coach Jenna Eckleberry.
The Shepherd record dipped to 5-16 overall and 4-11 in conference play as the 17 points from Morgan Arden and the 14 from Kristen Nunn were not enough to overcome a 41-35 rebounding deficit and 20 turnovers. Liz Myers had 12 rebounds and Kari Lankford had 11, but the other seven players could combine for only 12 rebounds between them. The Rams attempted only five free throws.
Moore and Bryant had the fourth-quarter scoring formula and inside points to do just enough to keep Shepherd from doing any long-lasting celebrating.
On Saturday, another nationally-ranked team showed its limousine’s exhaust to the Rams when West Liberty spotted Shepherd a 7-0 lead but then outgunned the home side by 28 points in the second half to methodically surge on away to a 95-69 conference victory at the Butcher Center.
Moving its stellar record to 19-3 overall, the Hilltoppers actually scored 30 points in the fourth quarter when a tiring Shepherd crew couldn’t keep pace with West Liberty’s continuous inside scoring.
Repeatedly scoring inside with Kierra Simpson and Liz Flowers, the Lynn Ullom-coached Hilltoppers tried to make people forget the earlier minutes of the game by putting more and more distance between themselves and the without-answer Rams.
The faster the pace became the farther behind the Rams fell.
Nothing — no strategy nor player substitutions–could plug the holes in Shepherd’s defensive dike.
Simpson scored 18 points, but her more important contribution was her 25 rebounds. Flowers had 19 points and outside-shooting Johnie Olkosky scored 21 points as the Hilltoppers stayed tied for the conference lead by making 50 percent of their field goal attempts, achieving 26 assists on their 35 field goals and outrebounding the Rams, 50-42.
Shepherd was close for a half, trailing 40-32 at intermission . . . but when the Hilltoppers scored the first eight points (all of them from Olkosky) of the second half the rout was in full progress.
The Rams made only 34.8 percent of the their shots, including 3-for-19 from long range.
Liz Myers had 11 rebounds and 11 points and Kari Lankford had nine rebounds and 10 points.
Scoring 30 points in a 10-minute quarter will take a team far. And West Liberty was taken to a 26-point win with its consistent offense that loosed so many players for high-percentage shots and an impressive road win.