As the postseason nears, Shawnee State has been getting itself into some tournament-like games as of late. Tuesday, the Bears' rival Cedarville almost made the team 0-2 in those types of games in a week.
The womens team had to battle back from an eight-point deficit with five minutes left in the game to tie the game and then pulled away in overtime to take a hard-fought 72-64 win on the road. For the men, the Jackets held SSU to 17 points in the first half to win going away 74-43.
When the Bears and Lady Jackets played in Portsmouth a month ago, SSU won by more than 20. Cedarville made it a bit tougher this time. The Lady Jackets used their size underneath to corral 21 offensive rebounds and get to the free-throw line 24 times to keep the Bears chasing almost the entire second half.
But Shawnee countered with a post presence of their own in Karen Diehl, who had a season-high 28 points. Diehl's total is the highest for an individual all season.
"She's a warrior," Shawnee State coach Robin Hagen-Smith said. "She's tough to match up with. She can shoot from the perimeter or she can take it to the basket, if the defense is sagging, and shoot it."
Despite Diehl's effort's the Bears had to make a late charge to avoid a second straight loss. Two 3-pointers by Diehl and three more points by Alison Meyer helped SSU claw back to a 58-all tie with 1:52 remaining. Two free throws by Alison Lemon gave Cedarville the lead back, but with five second left, Kelly Wagner made a layup around a screen that tied the game again and sent it to overtime.
From there, the Bears got four more points by Diehl and Mallory Albers as SSU (24-3, 12-1 AMC) outscored Cedarville in the extra period 12-4. With the Bears needing wins to get a good seed in the National Tournament, another loss would have almost been disastrous.
"I think this gives us that extra boost of confidence," Hagen-Smith said.
The men's loss, however, puts the team dangerously close to not qualifying for the AMC tournament. The Bears shot 29 percent in the first half, and the Yellow Jackets blistered the nets for 52 percent shooting as the home team jumped out to a 37-17 halftime lead.
SSU made only 1 of 18 shots from the 3-point arc in the game. Aaron Pennington led the Bears with 10 points and Justin Patrick added nine.
Chris Beals led Cedarville with 13 points. The Yellow Jackets made 10 3s in the game.
Shawnee State will wrap up the regular season on Saturday at home against Urbana.