For the first time in nearly a decade, everything seemed to go SSU's way in a national tournament game.
The Bears dominated in nearly every statistical category Wednesday as they dismantled Haskell Indian Nations University 79-40 in the first round of the NAIA Division II National Tournament at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa.
The 39-point margin of victory was SSU's largest in the national tournament since a 77-35 beating of St. Joseph (Vt.) in the 2000 first round.
The game went as many thought it should have gone. Shawnee State was making its third consecutive and 15th overall tournament appearance and was looking to establish itself against a team playing its first game under the national tourney's lights.
Though the Indians hung tough early, the Bears took over in the second half shooting 56 percent from the field and making seven of nine 3-pointers.
Haskell, conversely, shot just 26 percent in the as the Bears' defense clamped down.
Alison Meyer scored SSU's first nine points and went on to finish with 12 to go with seven rebounds. Mallory Albers led all scorers with 13 points while Jill Cropper and Whitney Williams each added 10.
Williams broke the Bears' single-season record for 3-pointers with 13:17 to play when she drained her second trey of the contest, giving her 93 on the season.
Abby Ballman was all over the court with nine points, three assists and eight of the Bears' 15 steals.
SSU (26-6) trailed for a total of just 18 seconds in the first half, but did not open a double-digit lead until a 16-0 run which spanned the final 1:41 of the first half and first three minutes after the break to put the Bears up 19 points.
From that point on, any combination SSU used seemed to work as 11 different players finished the game with at least two points and New Boston graduate Kayla Wiley dished out two assists in three minutes of play.
The Indians (20-12) found some success inside as Maria Parker and Autumn Burtt each scored 10 points to lead their team.
The Bears were able to flex their muscle in the paint, though, pulling down 40 rebounds in the contest and having nearly as many offensive boards (24) as the Indians had total rebounds (26).
Shawnee State has a day off Thursday before taking on No. 7-seed Aquinas (Mich.) which upset St. Francis (Ind.) 67-65 in overtime Wednesday.
The game tips off at 8:30 a.m. (CST), 9:30 a.m. (EST) and a win would put the Bears in the national quarterfinals for the first time since 2001.