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Alexander in foul mood after loss

January 15, 1999|By BOB PARASILITI

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Usually coaches pull out their hair because they can't figure out how to stop their team from fouling.

Today, Shepherd College coach Denny Alexander is reaching for the Rogain because he couldn't get the Rams to hack at will against West Virginia University-Tech.

All Alexander was looking for was one barrel roll or reaching foul - commonplace in most games - in the final 19 seconds on Thursday to stop Chris Pearson's drive to the basket. Shepherd's more sportsmanlike approach turned a 12-point comeback in the final four minutes into another one-point, 78-77 loss at the Butcher Center.

"We had only four fouls and I explained I wanted them to foul to get (Tech) to take the ball out of bounds," Alexander said. "We never did it. We never practice things like that, but we had the perfect opportunity. I thought they heard me, but the gym was loud. I guess they didn't."

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Shepherd had just completed a stirring 13-0 run when Derrick Price deflected an inbounds pass to Duane Harris at midcourt for a breakaway layup and a 77-76 lead with 19 seconds remaining. The Rams squandered an early lead and trailed 76-64 with five minutes remaining before a switch to a 2-3 zone keyed the run.

After a timeout, the inbound pass went to Pearson in the backcourt. He circled from the right to the left sideline, tightroped the edge and darted to the baseline for a layup with Shepherd still holding three fouls to give. Pearson was fouled during the layin, giving Tech the 78-76 lead with nine seconds left.

"We had a set play with five guys going to the ball," Tech coach Jeff Kypreos said. "All the guys were doing the same thing, but no, Chris wasn't our first option. That was the first game he's played for us all year."

Shepherd called time after the layup and called a 20-second timeout after David Thompson rebounded Pearson's missed foul shot with seven seconds remaining.

The Rams (3-11, 1-6) got the ball to point guard Ronnie Fitzpatrick, who raced the ball up the floor on a play designed to go to Harris. But instead, he got the ball to Thompson, who was open from 12 feet on the left wing. His shot came up short.

Shepherd jumped out to an early 18-8 lead but wilted in the middle of Tech's execution. The Golden Bears (6-6, 3-2) fought back to take a 42-34 lead at the half behind Jamie Riggs, who scored 20 of his 29 points in the first half. Harris led Shepherd with 25.

"I'm just happy we got out of here with a win," Kypreos said. "When you play that hard, you want your guys to be rewarded. We got ours."

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