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Shepherd leaves Big Blue feeling down

January 27, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - It was a lost-and-found kind of night at Shepherd University on Thursday.

The men's basketball team was trying to make sure it didn't have the urge to lose a game it should win, while the women were forced to find a way to win a game they could have lost.

Both found the prize. The men allowed Bluefield State to challenge in the second half but responded to win going away 102-83 in a West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory. Meanwhile, the women found the five essential pieces they needed to hold off the Big Blue, 79-61.

"I think we did the job we had to do," Shepherd men's coach Ken Tyler said. "We led wire to wire in a conference game and won, which is tough in the WVIAC."

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Shepherd (10-7, 5-4) attempted to take the 1-15 Big Blue to task early, but waited until a 16-6 run midway through the first half to build a 27-15 lead. Point guard Thomas Carr came off the bench to hit the first five points of the run.

The Rams used a balanced attack as nine of the 10 players on the roster scored, including five in double figures. But after leading 56-39 at the half, Shepherd allowed Bluefield to mount a 14-2 flurry in the first four minutes of the second half to pull within five at 58-53.

The answer came defensively as Shepherd kept Bluefield off the scoreboard and used a tremendous alley-oop dunk by Yves Molina - one of his four slams on the night - to ignite the run.

"One of the things we talk about during timeouts is getting three defensive stops in a row," Tyler said. "We finally did it. ... We got a couple of them and it gave us the working margin again. It was a good team effort."

Molina topped Shepherd with 24 points while Darren Stackhouse added 18 and 12 rebounds and Carr finished with 17 points. Bluefield's Corey Love led all scorers with 26 points.

"I don't think we are used to this situation," Tyler said. "We haven't had many blowout wins and I don't think we know how to handle success, but I was pleased with the way they responded."

Shepherd's women proved that it isn't how you start, it's how you finish.

After a slow start and a stagnate beginning to the second half, the Rams used the process of elimination to find the players they needed to finish off Bluefield.

"We were flat at the start and then we started searching," Shepherd coach Jodie Runner said.

"Everyone gets two tries out there to get it done. In the end, the five that were out there on the floor to end the game were the ones that did the job for us."

Shepherd (9-8, 5-4) did its best dogpaddling to stay afloat against the Big Blue's pressure defense. Shepherd went through its rotation, looking for any group to step out and take control of the game.

The Rams still managed a 33-27 halftime lead, but Bluefield started the second half with a 10-2 run to take a 37-35 lead with 14:22 remaining on a Heather Farrell 3-pointer. At that point, Danielle Costello got her second chance at the 14:07 mark and Shepherd began to retake control.

Costello worked the boards to give the Rams extra chances in a 15-8 run to take a 50-43 lead it held the rest of the way. Costello teamed with Molly Land, Rebecca Frece, Tiffany Acker and Laural Harkins as the final five standing to pull away at the end.

Harkin finished with 21 points while Costello and Land had 12 each. Farrell led Bluefield with 18 points, including four 3s.

"There were some long faces, but I think we found out that we have to stick together as a team," Runner said. "It doesn't matter what five is out there as long as we get the job done."

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