WINSTON-SALEM, NC – The Winston-Salem State Rams (0-1) gave a great effort with a strong second half comeback, but the team fell short when they opened the 2019-20 season with a 75-64 home loss to the UNC Pembroke Braves (3-0), Tuesday evening. After falling behind by as many as 20 points in the second half, the Rams staged a big comeback effort, but it fell short in the tough loss.
The Rams played a solid game in the loss, but the team had a tough time stopping the high-powered UNCP offense and struggled to get rebounds in the tough loss. As a team, the Rams shot 36.8% (21-of-57) in the game, including going six-of-17 from the three-point line. WSSU junior guard Justice Kithcart led the way for the Rams with 17 points in the game. The Rams were outscored 49-29 on the boards against the Braves.
The Rams got a slow start to the game, but the team warmed up. However, the team allowed a big late push by the Braves to take a deficit into the locker room at halftime. The Rams opened the game by falling into a 6-2 early deficit, but the team rallied. A jumper from senior forward Mason Harrell gave the Rams capped a 14-10 run and gave the Rams a 16-15 lead near the midpoint of the half. The lead was the sole lead of the game for the Rams, but the team was able to tie the game, 20-20 with pair of free throws from sophomore guard Jonathan Hicklin with 8:56 left in the first half. From there, things got tough for the Rams as the team allowed the Braves to go on a 12-3 run to fall behind, 32-23. The Rams would make an effort to get back into the game, but the team ended the half with a 39-28 deficit.
The second half saw a much better performance by the Rams. Things looked bad early for the Rams as they allowed the Braves to open the second half with a 10-1 run and fell behind 49-29. However, senior guard Julius Barnes led a big charge by the Rams. He scored 11 of the team's points and brought the Rams to within 10 points, 58-48 after three free throws with just under nine minutes left to play. However, the Rams got no closer to the Braves and ended the night with the 75-64 loss.
With the loss, the Rams open the 2019-20 season with an 0-1 record. The team will return to action, Friday night when they host the Fort Valley State Wildcats in an 8:00 p.m. game. 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.