Disappointing debut: Hornets lose opener in overtime at home

By Jerry Holsworth — sports@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER — Free throws grow in magnitude as a basketball game heads to its conclusion, and that was never truer than in Monday night’s season opener for Shenandoah University against Frostburg State at Shingleton Gymnasium.

The game hung on eight free throws, and the Bobcats made their four and the Hornets didn’t. The result was a dramatic 75-73 overtime win by Frostburg.

“I was very pleased with our effort tonight,” Frostburg coach Webb Hatch said. “I’ve been coming here on and off for 20 years, and I’ve only won twice here. Tonight was the second one. It’s a tough place to play. They really know how to create a great atmosphere for a basketball game.”

With 2:08 left in the game and the Bobcats leading by a slim 67-64 margin, Shenandoah had three opportunities at the free-throw line to tie or take the lead. After making the first of a 1-and-1 opportunity, Kevin Kline missed his second attempt, then missed a pair with 1:13 left in the game. Twelve seconds later, Hornets forward Mitchell Dudley missed two more.

Kline redeemed himself moments later by hitting a layup with eight seconds left to knot the score at 67-67 and send the game into overtime. But the missed opportunities still proved fatal.

“Kline played great tonight,” Hornets coach Rob Harris said. “We just weren’t able to make our free throws down the stretch, and that’s very important because of the way we play. But you have to give credit to Frostburg. They played a great game tonight.”

Leading 71-70 with 1:49 left in overtime, the Bobcats were faced with the same dilemma. Terrance Taylor responded for Frostburg by hitting both of his free throws, then sank another pair eight seconds later to put the Bobcats up 75-71.

The Hornets never recovered.

“I really don’t mind being put in a situation like that,” Taylor said. “I like the challenge. I had missed a couple of free throws in the first half and I was determined to knock all of the rest of my chances at the line down.”

Taylor did a lot more than that, leading Frostburg in scoring for the night with 25 points and 11 rebounds. He also hit 9-for-12 from the line.

“Ironically, he’s hasn’t been shooting his free throws that well in practice,” Hatch said. “But he’s a gamer and he made them when they really counted.”

Shenandoah began the game with a flurry of points that left some doubt as to the Bobcats’ ability to keep up. The Hornets used an up-tempo game and the inside shooting of Kline to jump ahead 24-15 midway through the first half.

Kline, who led Shenandoah with 28 points, scored at will in the paint. But with eight minutes remaining in the half, the Hornets junior drew his second foul and was forced to sit out the rest of the half.

Kline’s departure was the opportunity the Bobcats needed, and they responded with a 19-3 run that left the Hornets trailing 35-19 with two minutes to play in the half.

Shenandoah rallied and was able to narrow Frostburg’s lead to 38-34 by halftime, but was never able to pull away again.

The second half was a battle, with neither side able to mount a commanding lead. The Bobcats led for most of the half, but not by much.

With the score tied at 64, Taylor converted a 3-point play after being fouled on a layup to give the Bobcats a 67-64 lead. Kline’s free throw and last-second layup sent the game into overtime, but Frostburg jumped ahead quickly 71-67 and never looked back.

Besides Kline, Mitchell scored in double figures with 12 points and pulled down 11 rebounds to lead the Hornets.

Point guard Kenny Robertson had eight points, six rebounds, and five assists for Shenandoah.

“I’m disappointed,” Robertson said. “We really wanted this game.

“But we’ll be OK. We know that we should have won this game.”

Jamal Bracken had 12 points, and Bradley Nunn and Busha Koffa both had 10 points for Frostburg in the victory.

“We had some miscues at several points in the game because we were trying to push the ball,” Harris said. “But we can iron out those things.”