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Rams adjust, but can't keep pace with Pfeiffer

November 24, 2003|by BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Shepherd College men's basketball coach Ken Tyler had one of the first lessons he ever learned in coaching reinforced early in the Ram's matchup with Pfeiffer University.

Things don't always go as you envision them.

Shepherd (1-2) challenged the high-octane style - pushing out to a six-point lead - before tiring down the stretch in a 91-85 loss Sunday in the championship game of the Clarion Hotel Tip-Off Tournament at the Butcher Athletic Center.

Still, the Rams' overall play pleased Tyler.

"I would have never dreamed we would have been in a running battle with (Pfeiffer). That wasn't in the game plan." Tyler said. "But, things happen sometimes. And we made not one, but two comebacks against a great team."

Shepherd's patience in the first half allowed the Rams to force the Falcons to the brink in the second half.

The Rams stumbled early, going down by 17 points with just over nine minutes to play against a Pfeiffer team which averaged 95 points and won 22 games last year with all five starters returning.

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Tyler solved some defensive matchup problems, allowing Shepherd to trail 51-49 at the half.

"I felt that once we were back in it, we could dictate the tempo." Tyler said.

The Rams fell behind by 13 points before surging back again.

Former Hagerstown Community College star Mark Jennings hit a jumper for two of his 26 points followed by a Ross Mitchell layup brought the Rams to within 87-85 with 22 seconds left.

Falcon freshman DeMarco Grier hit a free throw and tournament MVP Kenny Mickens closed the scoring to ice the win for Pfeiffer.

"We won't have long to hang our heads." Tyler said. "We are getting ready for Shippensburg next. We will take the positives from this and move on."

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