By PAUL HINES
MT. VERNON —
The Rams stayed perfect this season in Changnon Gym with a 64-54 win against Carbondale on Friday night.
The win came after the Rams lost the last three out of four games at the buzzer.
“I think our team needed (a win) a lot. I needed it a whole lot,” Mt. Vernon coach Scott Gamber said. “This is a big win for us.
“I don’t think we’ve played bad. We just haven’t got a win.”
Trevor Flota paced the Rams’ attack with 20 points and freshman Braden Fitzjerrells added 19. Michael Feezer added 13.
The Rams used a big run to start the second quarter and secured the win despite missing six free throws in the final quarter.
Behind the hot shooting of guard Devontavius Payne, the Terriers stormed to a 15-9 lead after the opening quarter. Payne had 10 of his game high 23 points in the quarter.
“I think we came out and tried a little too much offensively early, tried to force some things that weren’t there,” Gamber said. “And maybe gamble a little bit too much.”
The Rams switched to a zone defense in the second and rattled off an 11-0 run to seize a 20-15 lead. It was an advantage the Rams never relinquished.
“I thought tonight might have been our best offensive night of the year as far as shooting the ball, getting to the rim, finishing when we got there,” Gamber said. “We put up a lot of points for us. We’re not a team that’s going to score 60 points much.”
Mt. Vernon took a five-point edge into halftime and extended its advantage to double digits after Flota drove to the basket for a layup to make the score 34-23. Jake Pike pushed the lead higher after a 3-pointer. The Terriers answered the Rams with a 6-0 run to slash the deficit to 37-29. But once again Mt. Vernon pushed its lead back to double digits. Down a dozen points to start the final quarter, Carbondale tried to slow Mt. Vernon’s momentum with fouls. Flota made a pair of free throws early in the fourth. Later he and Shakari Hawkins combined for six misses, but Carbondale couldn’t take advantage of the opportunities.
“(We’re) just fortunate that we missed six straight free throws that it was enough of a gap to where it didn’t matter,” Gamber said.
Mt. Vernon is 9-7 overall this season and 3-2 in the South Seven Conference. Carbondale dropped to 1-4 in league play.