From the opening tip of the Shore Conference Tournament first round game between No. 17 Southern and No. 16 Red Bank, it was clear the Rams had something to prove. After a big 8-2 run in the third quarter and some clutch late foul shooting, the Rams were able to outlast the Bucs, 57-47, for a big first round SCT win on Tuesday night.
Southern head coach Tom Bucci watched his team come out with the type of effort that late head coach Kathy Snyder always preached to her teams over her 35 years as Southern head coach. The Rams did a great job of mixing zones throughout the game, as they tried to contain Red Bank senior Jazz Van Loon through all four quarters.
The game went into halftime tied at 23, but it was the Rams who came out in the second half and took control of the game in the third quarter. Led by senior Allison Spaschak and junior guard Tierney Goetz, the Rams started to play their style of basketball.
“We stopped rushing, in the first half everyone was taking too many rushed shots,” Spaschak said.
“I guess we were a little nervous, but in the second half we played our game and let the offense come to us.”
It’s a big upset victory for the Rams, who may or may not have felt a little slighted by the seeding committee after the pairings were finalized on Sunday. Just as the Rams were able to do in their first home game since the sudden passing of Snyder, it seemed they once again were playing for their beloved late coach.
“Everyone knows that we have been through hell and back this season,” Spaschak said.
“Getting into this tournament and coming out with a win was a big deal to our coach before she passed away, and we wanted to come out and win this one for her.”
Along with the impressive steady performance from Spaschak, it was Goetz who really seemed to get going in the second half for the Rams. She scored 14 of her 18 points in the final two quarters, and also hit a big shot behind the arc in the fourth.
“She’s a killer for us when she gets going, I tell her that all the time,” Bucci said.
“When the lights come on she is ready to play, she is fantastic from the line and a really great defender.”
As a team, the Rams were clutch from the line in the fourth quarter. Gabby Davis, Goetz, and Spaschak went a combined 12-for-14, basically shutting down any attempt at a late comeback from the Bucs.
The win is also special for Bucci, who remembered sitting down with Snyder in the beginning of the year and talking about getting to this tournament.
“To see the growth of this team and the growth of this program is great,” Bucci said.
“I know she is happy right now.”
Southern will now head to top-seeded St. John Vianney on Thursday in a Round of 16 SCT game.
“You want to see the best in this tournament,” Bucci said.
“We are going to go out there and give our absolute best effort.”
Spaschak finished with a team-high 21 points for the Rams, Jazz Van Loon scored a game-high 25 points on senior night at Red Bank Regional.