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Rams strive to stay ahead

January 08, 2001

Rams strive to stay ahead



By BOB PARASILITI / Staff Writer


SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Shepherd College coach Denny Alexander admits his Shepherd College teams have spent much of his tenure trying to find the way to be successful.

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Little did the Rams know everything they need is right in front of them, provided they keep it there.

Shepherd uncovered the style it treasures - even though it was for only for a four-minute stretch - by flashing some stifling defense to erase a four-point second-half deficit with a 14-3 run on Saturday to burst to a 77-70 victory over Wheeling Jesuit and ruin the return of Williamsport's Andy Artz.

"We never did what we tried to do the whole night," Alexander said. "We kept gambling for steals and they kept getting scores. Then we got consistent on defense. We were able to keep the ball in front of us and were able to set up some team pressure on the ball to make things happened."

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And what happened, Wheeling Jesuit popped like a cork. The victory was Shepherd's fourth straight and helped the Rams to defend their No. 9 slot in the NCAA Division II East Regional rankings.

Artz, a senior playing his final regular season game in the area, hit a 3-pointer to open the second half and give the Cardinals a 34-33 lead and hit the foul shot that made the bulge 37-33, forcing Shepherd to call time.

The Rams (5-1, 2-0) came out of the break and turned aggressive. The defensive surge started with 18 minutes remaining and featured a flurry of steals out of the press and drives to the basket to turn the game. Kenny Cox benefitted from the flurry with five points and Antar Parkman score four of his quiet game-high 21 as the Rams strong-armed their way to a 47-40 lead with 14:00 to go.

"(Wheeling was) really sticky," Alexander said. "They never gave up. I don't think we could have beaten a team like that last year. They were playing as well as they could to have a chanc e to win on the road. We needed to match it to win at home."

After the rally, the game went to back to its tradeoff pace with Shepherd leading by as many as 10 the rest of the way.

The first half was highlighted by seven ties and six lead changes as neither team dominated.

Artz finished with 14 points and nine rebounds for Wheeling (2-7, 0-1) to back leading scorer Mike Patrick's 20. Demond Tapscott had 20 for the Rams.

"It might only be four wins in a row, but you can't tell the players that," Alexander said. "It helps build confidence. You can gauge that by defensive intensity. And if we can continue that, it will pull us out of situations where we aren't making shots. If you can do that, then you will be OK."

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