Cameron Whiteside scored 15 points, Chance Sheffey had 14, Eric Okenchi added 12 and Briggs Parris netted 11, but the 10th-seeded Cavaliers fell to No. 7 Shepherd 71-66.
The Rams (14-15) opened the game on a 20-0 run. Sheffey scored on a jumper with 11:40 showing on the first-half clock to get the Cavs (9-20) on the scoreboard and start their comeback.
Senior Rahji Langford’s bucket cut Shepherd’s margin to single digits, 26-17, and with 3:31 left in the half, Parris connected on his third 3 to pull the Cavs within one, 26-25.
Sheffey’s free throw under the two-minute mark tied the game at 28, but the Rams retook the lead and took a 35-30 advantage into the halftime break.
The second half was a seesaw affair. The Rams jumped out front 41-34 and 50-41 before the Cavs used a 9-0 run to knot the game at 50 with 7:46 remaining. Jordan Pointer went coast to coast for a bucket that put Virginia-Wise out front for the first time, but the teams took turns owning the lead until Shepherd pulled out front 68-61 and the Cavs were force to foul.
Pointer finished with eight points and a career-high five blocks. Whiteside and Okenchi each added seven rebounds and Sheffey dished out seven assists.
Thomas Lang finished with 18 points and Jon Preston totaled 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Rams, who’ll play No. 2 seed Fairmont State in Friday’s quarterfinals.