SHEPHERDSTOWN – Frustrating is probably the best way to describe West Virginia Wesleyan's 63-56 loss to Shepherd here tonight in the first-round of the Mountain East Conference Tournament.
Wesleyan owned an early 10-point lead and was ahead at the half, 27-21. They also owned several second half leads, but a late 12-0 run changed the momentum of the game for Shepherd as they will now advance to the second round of the MEC Tournament while Wesleyan's season ends on a sour note.
Wesleyan finished the regular season with an 11-18 record.
Tanner McGrew ended the season on a positive note with his conference leading 16th double-double with 20 points and 17 rebounds.
Wesleyan was down early by a 5-4 score but went on a 7-0 run after Shell made a lay-up, Ja'Sahn Johnson made three free throws and McGrew went inside for two to take an 11-5 advantage with 13:18 remaining in the first half.
A Richards three-pointer pushed the Wesleyan lead to seven, at 17-10.
Up 17-13, the 'Cats rattled off the next six points when Johnson made a jumper, McGrew downed two free throws and came back with a lay-up to put Wesleyan ahead by 10, at 23-13, with 3:38 left in the half.
Shepherd closed the half on an 8-4 run, but Wesleyan led by a 27-21 score at the intermission.
McGrew started the second half with two foul shots that made it a 29-21 score but Shepherd rattled off the next eight points to deadlock the game at 29-29.
Garrett Grantham (pictured) ended the run with a jumper but Shepherd made a three to take a 32-31 lead.
Shepherd was ahead 38-36, but McGrew made a lay-up and Richards uncorked a trey to give Wesleyan a 41-38 advantage with 10:10 left on the clock.
A Shell lay-up pushed Wesleyan's lead to six, at 49-43, with 6:28 left in the game.
That is when the Wesleyan offense went ice cold as they didn't score over the next four minutes.
During the span, Shepherd went on a 12-0 run to take a 55-49 lead with 2:32 remaining.
Chris Dewberry ended the drought with a three-pointer that made it a 55-52 game with 2:09 left.
Shepherd scored the next four at the free throw line before Richards scored on a lay-up that made it a 59-54 contest with 48 seconds remaining.
Shepherd tacked on three more at the line before McGrew went inside to put the score at 62-56.
The Rams ended the scoring with another free throw.
Wesleyan shot 44.4 percent from the floor while Shepherd hit at a 38.2 percent rate.
Wesleyan outrebounded Shepherd by a 34-28 margin.
Shepherd was guilty of only two turnovers.
Shepherd improved to 15-14 overall and will now face No. 1 West Liberty on Friday in the second round.
(File photo courtesy of Peter Galarneau Jr.)