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One-point loss to State leaves Rams feeling pointless

February 01, 2005|by BILL STERNER

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - It's been that kind of year for the Shepherd College men's basketball team.

In what has become a frustrating but familiar theme, the Rams outplayed and outhustled another more talented foe only to fall short in the final analysis.

This time it was West Virginia Conference leader West Virginia State that took advantage of some key Rams errors to come away with a nailbiting 77-76 win at the Butcher Center on Monday evening.

The fact that Shepherd took the conference's best team to the wire and placed six players in double figures while doing so did little to provide solace for the Rams' fiery coach, Ken Tyler.

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"A lot of people will focus on the last sequence of play," Tyler said of the excitement created by a game-ending 12-4 run by Shepherd during the last 1:30. "But we turned the ball over 22 times and didn't respond to their pressure on defense and in the passing lanes.

"Turnovers and some lack of focus snowballed on us."

But Shepherd (7-13, 5-6), never let the Yellow Jackets get very comfortable- even when the conference leader in 3-pointers, West Virginia State's Nat Moles, rained in four from long distance in the first four minutes of the half. Moles finished the game with 22 points.

Shepherd answered every time, twice fighting back from double-digit deficits to tie the score at 34-34 late in the half. A buzzer-beating 3 by the Yellow Jackets' Wade Pidock gave West Virginia State (13-6, 9-1) the lead at the half.

When the second half started like the first, Tyler used timeouts and a variety of substitutions and the Rams fought back again.

"We got some great individual performances from several people tonight but there were times we didn't respond and it cost us." Tyler said.

Two fouls whistled on Shepherd's marquee player, Chambersburg High School graduate Danley Shank, in the first two minutes of the second half relegated him to the bench for a 15-minute span.

"Danley has to be aware of the situation," Tyler said. "We had a sub at the table and he commits a second foul 45 feet from the basket. You have to learn to live to fight another day. When Danley doesn't play well, often times we don't play well."

Shepherd's Thomas Carr had 14 points.

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