WINSTON-SALEM, NC – The Winston-Salem State Rams (8-8, 3-5 CIAA) played a solid game, but the team faded late in a hard-fought 73-69 loss to the Shaw Bears (8-9, 3-5 CIAA), Wednesday evening. The Rams had a five-point lead with just under eight minutes left to play, but the team went cold and slowly faded away in the tough loss.
The Rams took the loss in spite of some solid overall play. As a team, the Rams shot 44.2% (23-of-52) from the floor, including shooting 40.9% (9-of-22) from the three-point line. However, the team struggled shooting just 51.9% (14-of-27) from the free throw line in the tough loss. Four Rams reached double-digit scoring in the game with senior guard Andrew Lopez leading the way with 12 points off the bench while senior forwards Jamel McAllister and William Crandell joined junior guard Robert Colon with 11 points each in the game. Freshman forward Xavier Fennell led the team's rebounding efforts as he tied junior forward Mason Harrell with six rebounds each in the game.
The Rams had a tough time closing out both halves in the game with shooting woes appearing late in the first half of play. WSSU had a slow start to the game as the Bears took an early 12-7 lead with just over 12 minutes left to play, but the Rams soon took things over when a Lopez three-pointer with 10:34 left in the half gave the Rams a 13-12 lead. The swung back and forth between the two teams before the Rams allowed the Bears to take a 23-21 lead with just under six minutes left in the half. From there, the Rams managed just one field goal to head into the locker room with a 35-26 deficit.
Things looked very similar in the second half as the Rams clawed their way back to a lead before a late shooting drought cost them in the loss. The Rams opened the half on fire as a pair of Harrell free throws capped a 17-7 run by the Rams and gave the team its first lead of the second half, 43-42 with 14:40 left to play. The two teams would go back and forth trading the lead, but things looked good for the Rams as back-to-back three-pointers from Lopez and Colon left the Rams with a 59-56 lead with 9:01 left to play. Things looked even better as a McAllister lay-up with 7:41 left to play left the Rams with a 61-59 lead over the Bears. However, it was then that the Rams' shooting woes arose as the team would only get one more field goal for the remainder of the game. The Rams made some key free throws and played some strong defense to keep the game within reach, 71-69 with just 46 seconds left to play. However, the Rams allowed a critical jumper to the Bears with just 24 seconds left to play and fell behind, 73-69. From there, the Rams could only muster a missed three-point attempt in the final seconds that would sail a bit too far as the Rams took the tough home loss.
With the loss, the Rams fall to 8-8 overall and 3-5 in Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) play. The Rams will return to action, Saturday when they head to Fayetteville, N.C. to take on the Fayetteville State Broncos at 4:00 p.m. for more information on Rams men's basketball, contact the WSSU Office of Athletic Media Relations at (336) 750-2143 or log on to www.WSSURams.com.