RALEIGH, NC – The Winston-Salem State Rams (4-17, 2-10 CIAA) held a two-point lead in the final seconds, but the team allowed five points in the final 18 seconds of the game to take the heartbreaking loss to the Falcons. The loss was the second time in three seasons that the Falcons have handed the Rams a loss in the final seconds of play. The Rams also took a 58-55 loss to the Falcons in 2016 after a three-pointer at the buzzer.
The Rams took the loss in spite of one of their better performances of the season. The Rams played some solid defense in the game, holding the Falcons to 63 points and forced 24 turnovers in the game. Offensively, the Rams could not get the points they needed, but the team shot a great 48.8% (21-of-43) from the floor in the game. WSSU junior forward William Crandell led the way for the Rams with a double-double 18 points and 11 rebounds in the game. Junior guard Derick Brewer, Jr. added 11 points while fellow junior James Rucker, II added 10 points off the bench.
In the first half, the Rams clicked on all cylinders when the team opened the game with a strong first half. In the early going of the half, the Falcons opened the game with a 15-10 start before the Rams clamped down on defense to take control of the game. The Rams took their first lead of the game on a Brewer, Jr. jumper with 4:00 left in the half. The jumper was a part of a 12-point run by the Rams that left the team on top, 24-19 after a three-pointer from Rucker, II, with 2:43 left in the half. The Rams would pour it on the Falcons in the final minutes of the half to outscore the Falcons 8-3 to take a 32-22 lead at halftime. In all, the Rams mounted a 20-3 run to take the halftime lead.
The second half was similar to the first half, but with a much different ending. The Rams opened the half on fire, outscoring the Falcons, 8-2 to go ahead by as many as 16 points on a Crandell lay-up with 16:59 left in the game. The Rams kept up the pressure when a Crandell dunk with 10:40 left to play left the Rams on top, 51-35. From there, the Rams went on the defensive as the team had to fend off a furious comeback effort by the Falcons. The dunk turned out to be the Rams' last field goal for the next five minutes. By the time Crandell hit a jumper with 4:59 left, the Rams' lead was cut down to 10 points, 55-45 with 4:59 left to play. The Rams soon saw their lead whittled down to seven points, 56-49 with 1:00 left to play. It was then that the Rams fell victim to a three-point barrage from the Falcons that could not be overcome; even by the Rams' solid free throw shooting. Saint Augustine's connected on three three-pointers in the final minute of the game.
The final minute of the game was a thrilling, but disappointing one for the Rams. After a Brewer, Jr. free throw with 00:30 left gave the Rams a 60-55 lead, the Rams allowed an SAU three-pointer with 00:12 left to fall behind, 61-60 and a pair of SAU free throws ended the game and gave the Rams the 63-60 loss.
The loss drops the Rams to 4-17 overall and 2-10 in Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) play. Unfortunately, the Rams fall to 0-6 in CIAA Southern Division play. The Rams will return to action, Saturday when the team hosts the Shaw Bears in a Saturday game at 4:00 p.m.
For more information on Rams basketball, contact the WSSU Office of Athletic Media Relations at (336) 750-2143 or log on to www.WSSURams.com.