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Rams use detail to win in opener

November 25, 2002|by BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Shepherd College basketball coach Ken Tyler walked purposefully down the line of Rams just prior to the national anthem.

Tyler was reminding his players to focus and pay attention to detail even before their game with Columbia Union tipped off.

That focus paid dividends in the second half, as Shepherd overcame a jittery first half with an explosive motion offense and a stifling zone defense to run away from the Pioneers 84-59 in the nightcap of the Clarion Hotel Tip-Off tourney at the Butcher Athletic Center on Saturday.

In the first game, Belmont Abbey slipped by Bloomsburg University, 57-55. Shepherd will face the Crusaders today at 4 p.m. in the championship game.

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"I think I'm getting too much credit here," Tyler laughed when asked about the Ram's attention to detail even prior to the game. "But in reality, we want to do everything to the best of our ability all the time."

Though it took an animated timeout with just over 17 minutes left in the second half and Shepherd trailing 45-40 to turn the Rams' fortunes around.

"I challenged them during that timeout," Tyler said. "We were playing well in places, and then we were letting down."

Shepherd responded with an 11-0 run behind a solid inside game from Dorian Sims, Mark Jennings and Phillip Stewart.

But it was on defense that the Rams dominated the Pioneers, holding them to a mere 14 points down the stretch.

Sims' 3-pointer at the 11-minute mark put Shepherd up 58-47 and the Rams would never look back.

"I feel we were relentless in the second half," Tyler said. "It took us a while, but when it happened ..."

Shepherd's effort was helped on defense by the physical play of Berkeley Springs graduate Keith Davis and 7-foot-4 center Matt Slaninka.

Slaninka, a transfer from the University of Maryland, ended the game with 14 points - second only to Stewart's 17 - and 12 rebounds.

"Matt had a really good day," Davis said. "He is capable of doing this every night, but we want him to be consistent."

"We got a little bit from everyone tonight," Tyler said. "I challenged our guys and they were up to it."

Sims finished with 18 points and Jennings had six for Shepherd. Davis had eight points and nine rebounds.

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