SHEPHERDSTOWN — Working overtime gave Shepherd its most important women’s basketball win of the season on Saturday afternoon at the Butcher Center.
Fairmont, uncomfortably residing in first place in the 15-team WVIAC, made a run behind its full-court pressure defense to overcome a 15-point deficit and send the game into overtime.
But in the overtime, it was the flurry of layups by Gabby Flinchum, and last-minute scoring from Emily Daniel and Alex Tamaz that were enough to give the Lady Rams a pulsating 69-66 win before an appreciative crowd of about 500.
Fairmont (9-2 in the WVIAC) was ushered out of first place by the loss. Shepherd moved to 6-5 in the conference and was 7-8 overall.
A commanding 50-36 rebounding edge was a major reason the Lady Rams were able to finally prevail. Flinchum and Daniel both had 11 rebounds.
It was Flinchum’s presence on the floor for 37 minutes that was the definitive reason Shepherd won.
In nearly every game Shepherd has played, Flinchum has been removed by Coach Melanie Ford when she gets her second foul in the first half. Ford routinely removes any player with two first-half fouls. And Flinchum generally has her second foul after eight or nine minutes.
Against Fairmont, Flinchum blocked six shots in the first half and yet wasn’t called for any fouls. She was able to play 17 minutes in the half, also registering eight points and securing five rebounds.
After blocking another three shots in the first seven minutes of the second half, Flinchum was still without a foul.
Shepherd had extended a four-point halftime lead to 40-25 with fully 15 minutes remaining in regulation.
Fairmont was backed into a corner. Coach Steve McDonald went to a fullcourt press. The intensity level was heightened. Fairmont was effective with its steals and in forcing other Shepherd turnovers.
The Lady Falcons scored 12 of the next 13 points.
Although continuing to shoot poorly from the field, do-everything point guard Kaitlin Snyder was able to orchestrate much of the comeback scene.
Flinchum made her two cleanest blocks of the game, but was whistled for a foul on each. She even picked up a quick third foul but remained in the game.
Fairmont’s press did cause it to be tagged with a number of fouls. And Shepherd was on the bonus at the foul line with fully 10:06 left in the last half.
The earlier sprint of Fairmont points had brought them close. And it stayed close. Or even poked its head in front.
At the 4:35 mark, Fairmont was in front by a point. With 2:11 left, the Falcons were again up by a point.
In the last frantic seconds of regulation Snyder made two free throws to make it 55-55. She would finish the losing afternoon going only 9-for-30 (30 percent) from the field with nine rebounds and making 7-of-9 free throws.
Shepherd’s final chance to win it in regulation was wasted when Priscilla Moseh, a 52 percent free throw shooter, missed two foul shots with only five seconds left.
Flinchum, Daniel, and Tamez provided what Shepherd needed in the overtime to win by three points.
It had been Flinchum’s 37 minutes out of the 45 played that had kept Shepherd from capsizing. She had blocked nine shots that were counted and two others that were counted against her.
And the Lady Rams had toppled the WVIAC’s league leader, and even though there are still 11 conference games left, Shepherd moved forward its shaky position in trying to host a home game in the conference tournament.