SHEPHERDSTOWN — Even a thunderous 29-point, six-rebound game from Emily Daniel couldn’t save Shepherd from a 90-80 conference loss at the hands of visiting Pitt-Johnstown Monday at the Butcher Center.
[cleeng_content id="130512128" description="Read it now!" price="0.15" t="article"]Almost all of Shepherd’s noise was made by Daniel and the first-seen pep band that came to the arena with four home games remaining.
Pitt-Johnstown shouted the loudest, barely beating the whistles of the three officials who called a total of 41 fouls — both the 37 free throws the Lady Cats attempted and the ones called on Shepherd center Gabby Flinchum and guard Rachel Johnson.
The Lady Cats were near-perfect from the foul line. They made 35-of-37 free throws, a game-deciding 95 percent. Gingerly nursing a slender lead against a late-game Shepherd press, Pitt-Johnstown scored 20 of its last 24 points from the free throw line.
Even with Daniel keeping the Lady Rams close, the bench-sitting forms of both Flinchum and Johnson made Shepherd vulnerable.
Flinchum was called for her first foul with 18:14 left in the first half. She was summarily removed. She came back with just over 13 minutes left in the half. She lasted 1:20 after being tagged with her second foul and removed for the rest of the half.
Johnson is Shepherd’s leading scorer. When she was whistled for her second foul with 7:35 left in the half, out she went.
With Flinchum watching and no threat to block shots from her sideline perch, Pitt-Johnstown totally disregarded the interior of the Shepherd defense and repeatedly drove through the lane for layups or drew more fouls on Flinchum’s replacements.
The Lady Cats were 12-for-12 from the foul line in a first half where they managed a 40-37 lead despite Daniel’s 13 points and four rebounds.
Flinchum started the second half, but was removed again after her third foul was applied with fully 18:49 remaining in the game. When Johnson received her third foul with fully 16:57 showing, she left . . . and with her joining Flinchum too much of Shepherd’s scoring and defense was gone.
Pitt-Johnstown doggedly kept its lead. Its bullseye free throw shooting saw to that. Kaitlynn Fratz was 14-for-14 from the line and had 24 points. Inaya Stephenson was 8-for-8 with her free throws and Kelsey Sleighter was 6-for-7 from the field and scored 18 points.
Shepherd was 8-10 overall and back to 7-7 in the WVIAC. The Lady Cats, who owned an earlier win over Shepherd, rose to 11-7 overall and to 9-6 in the conference.
Flinchum played 10 minutes and scored 12 points with three rebounds.
Flinchum was missing for the most part. Johnson was harmlessly sitting. And even with Daniel slashing and scoring, Pitt-Johnstown was in control from the foul line — and winning.[/cleeng_content]