FAIRMONT — Shepherd made 29-of-38 free throws, had eight players score at least eight points, and outrebounded host Fairmont last Tuesday at Joe Retton Arena.
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In winning its conference-opening game, 93-90, over the Falcons, Shepherd improved to 3-1 overall and was 1-0 in the WVIAC.
Fairmont was 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the conference as it was also opening its league schedule.
The Rams overcame a four-point halftime deficit by making 52 percent of their field goal attempts in the second half where they scored 48 points.
Kevin Jones, Marcus Pilgrim, and Aeron Spencer combined to give the Rams 27 points off the bench.
The only starter who failed to reach double figures was Austin Cunningham (9 points) as Brantley Osborne led the Shepherd scorers with his 17 points. He was closely followed by Sidney McCray (15 points), Chad Moore (14 points), and Morgan McDonald (11 points).
McDonald had his best game of the season as he contributed 12 of Shepherd’s 42 rebounds. Moore had nine rebounds. Fairmont claimed 35 rebounds.
Shepherd’s 76.3 percent showing from the foul line trumped Fairmont’s 13-for-18 (72.2 percent) because it had 20 more tries.
The Rams committed only 15 personal fouls as compared with Fairmont’s 25 team fouls.
Brendan Cooper went 15-for-22 from the field to pace three Fairmont players in double figures. Malik Stith had 20 points and Isaac Thornton finished with 14 points in his 40 minutes.
Kevin Jones’ layup with 13:07 to play gave Shepherd its first lead at 58-57. But Cooper’s jumper returned a 77-76 lead to the Fightning Falcons with 4:27 to play.
McCray’s free throw gave the Rams a 78-77 lead with 3:36 showing and Shepherd never gave up the lead again.
The lead went to 90-83 with Chad Moore’s free throw.
In the last seconds, Osborne made a layup as Shepherd went ahead, 93-90. Fairmont’s Stith missed a three-point attempt with five seconds left. Cunningham rebounded Stith’s miss for Shepherd.
The Rams are back at home in the Butcher Center this Saturday, Dec. 1 at 4 p.m. to face conference rival Charleston.