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Rams, Shank show they have more than a leg to stand on

November 20, 2004|by CURT HORNBECKER/Staff Correspondent

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Danley Shank's left ankle might have been heavily iced after the game, but the fact that his foot was attached to his leg was an indication that Assumption College had failed.

The Shepherd University forward - despite turning his ankle within the first two minutes of the game - scored 19 of his game-high 28 points in the second half to propel the Rams to a 76-72 come-from-behind victory in the opening round of the Clarion Hotel Tip-Off Tournament on Friday night. It was the season opener for the Rams.

"My teammates were expecting me to go," Shank said, "and it's still connected, so I can play on it."

Shepherd will face Pfeiffer University - a 85-61 winner over Gannon University in the other first-round game - tonight for the championship.

Down by 18 points at halftime, the Rams roared back with a 13-3 run behind Shank and Darren Stackhouse to close the gap to 47-39 with 15:34 left.

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Shank went back to work, scoring 15 points in a 19-8 run to give Shepherd a 70-66 lead.

A pair of 10-foot runners by Assumption's Leroy Byron tied the score before Chad Myers drained a 12-footer with 57 seconds left to put the Rams back up, 72-70.

Josh Melucci's short jumper tied the score before Shepherd freshman Thomas Carr iced it with four straight free throws.

The Rams limited Elijah Bland, who sank five 3-pointers on his way to 17 first-half points, to just seven points in the final 20 minutes.

But the key, according to Shepherd coach Ken Tyler, was limiting All-America Second Team center Brian Robinson to just two points.

"The big difference was how we guarded Robinson," said Tyler. "He was a non-factor tonight."

Tyler added that much of the credit belongs to senior center Esosa Imoisili, who finished with seven blocked shots while shutting down the Greyhounds in the middle.

"Give Shepherd credit," Assumption coach Tom Ackerman said. "They completely took our inside game away from us."

Forced to try to win from the outside, Assumption appeared capable of doing just that, hitting 7 of 11 3-pointers in the first half. But a more active Shepherd defense held the Greyhounds to just 2 of 15 shooting from behind the arc in the second half.

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