Shepherd University’s basketball teams had hoped for a better return from their winter breaks. The men and women teams looked for the wins. Instead, both squads lost last Saturday at Butcher Center in Shepherdstown.
The Rams men ran into a hot-shooting University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown team where a 24-point effort by the Mountain Cats’ John Paul Kromka led to 79-62 win. The Shepherd women, still in search of some consistency, remain winless through 10 games, falling to UPJ in last Saturday’s early game, 77-48.
The Shepherd men knew Kromka was a major scoring threat, yet there was little the Rams could do to contain him. He went 12 of 15 from the floor.
Kromka hit on all five of his field goal attempts in the first half. Whether from close or long range, he seemed unstoppable. He finished with a game-high 24 points. He also had six rebounds.
“He’s their top scorer, an all-region player,” Shepherd coach Justin Namolik said of Kromka’s scoring ability. “UPJ is the top team in the PSAC West. They ran a ton of cross screens against us. There’s only so much you can do in those cases.”
Namolik said a better first-half effort, when it came to shot selection, would’ve worked better for Shepherd. The Rams made just six of 28 from the floor (21.4 percent). UPJ shot 62 percent from the floor in the first half, making 18 of 29 attempts.
“In the first half, we just took some bad shots,” Namolik said. “UPJ got hot and capitalized on our bad shots. We hurt ourselves in the first half.”
Shepherd (6-5, 3-2 PSAC East) never led in last Saturday’s game. The score was tied twice, but the Rams kept missing on opportunities to take the lead. The Mountain Cats led at halftime, 43-24.
UPJ led by as much as 23, 53-30, with 14 minutes, 55 seconds to go in the game. Shepherd was able to cut the Mountain Cats lead to 13 twice over the remainder of the game, but no closer.
“I thought we fought really well in the second half,” Namolik said. “We made some adjustments at halftime to get more out of our offense. We were getting better shots, but every time we’d cut their lead, they would hit a big 3.”
Dan McClain-Corley led the Rams with 19 points and five assists. Jon Preston had 16 points with six rebounds for Shepherd. Carson Poffenberger had 11 points.
Aidan Hughley, another key player for Shepherd, fouled out in the second half, but finished with 11 points and seven rebounds. Jarod Robinson had three assists for Shepherd.
Shepherd made 15 of 20 foul shots (75 percent).
“What we need to do now is re-group and focus on our division,” Namolik said.
While Shepherd’s women continue to search for that first win of the year, the Lady Rams are working on achieving what first-year coach Julie Kaufman calls “little” goals for each game, instead of worrying about a game’s final outcome.
One of those goals is reducing the number of turnovers per game. “We’re shooting for keeping it under five turnovers per quarter,” Kaufman said. Shepherd had 15 turnovers against UPJ last Saturday. In previous outings, the Lady Rams had committed as much as more than 20 turnovers in a game.
Another goal for Shepherd has been to limit an opponent to less than five offensive rebounds per quarter. UPJ held a 33-31 rebounding edge against the Lady Rams last Saturday.
“We met those goals for this game,” Kaufman said, adding once the team starts winning games, given the rough start this season, each win will be celebrated.
Poor shooting continues to plague the Lady Rams. Shepherd shot 33 percent from the floor. Kendal Haggerty led the Lady Rams with 11 points. Meghan Shipley had 10 points for Shepherd. Sydney Bolles had nine points.
Kaufman said improvement in valuing each possession on offense and doing a better job, defensively, are other things on Shepherd’s agenda as the season continues.
“Giving up 70 to 80 points a game isn’t going to cut it for us,” Kaufman said of the Lady Rams’ defense. “We didn’t have any hands in the face. We need to get out to their shooters and make some defensive stops.”
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.