Matt Rhodes’ (SR/Westerville, Ohio) three with six seconds remaining propelled the Shawnee State men’s basketball program to an 85-82 win over Central State (Ohio) at Waller Gymnasium on Monday night.
Monday night’s first half looked eerily similar to Saturday’s as Central State took an early lead. Martin Oliver’s three with 16:01 on the clock gave the Marauders their largest lead of the game at nine points, 13-4, over the Bears. Shawnee State then began to chip away at the lead, and Tamal Watkins’ (SO/Columbus, Ohio) layup after stealing an inbounds pass from Tom Johnson tied the game at 25 with 6:40 remaining in the half.
SSU, however, continued to keep pace with Central State, and the Bears would eventually take the lead. Watkins would hit a three to tie the game for a third time at 30-30, and EJ Onu (FR/Cleveland, Ohio) gave SSU the lead with a pair of free throws. That lead would extend out to five on Selby Hind-Wills’ (SO/Crawley, England) corner three. Rhodes then added his own three one minute later to put the Bears up seven, and Watkins nailed a pair of bonus free throws to end the half and put Shawnee State up 40-31 at the break.
Daniel Ester’s (FR/Akron, Ohio) layup less than a minute into the half gave SSU a 10-point lead to start the final 20-minute stanza, but things wouldn’t be as smooth sailing as Central State rallied back into the fray. A 13-3 run by the Marauders, led by eight points from CSU leading scorer Chris Scott, would give the Marauders a 46-45 lead with 15:07 to go. Shawnee State counterpunched and retook the lead on a Bryan Rolfe (SO/Lucasville, Ohio) three, but CSU again tied the game on a Martin Oliver three and took the lead on Frank Barber III’s bucket with 12:47 to go.
The Oliver basket then sparked a Shawnee State run as the Bears rallied past Central State again. Rhodes hit a three to give SSU back the lead, then Jayllen Carter (SR/Portsmouth, Ohio) hit a layup to put the Bears up three. Hind-Wills hit a pair of free throws, then Justin Johnson (SO/Cincinnati, Ohio) put up a shot in the paint through contact to give SSU a 60-53 advantage. The score remained around a five to seven-point lead until the late stages of the game.
With SSU holding a 77-71 advantage with 4:51 to go, Central State would begin to rally. The Marauders would go on a 9-2 run, capped by a Jeremy Brown layup, to take an 80-79 lead. Rolfe would hit a free throw to tie the game up again, but Frank Barber III would again come up huge for the Marauders, getting an offensive rebound and put-back with one minute to go to put Central State up 82-80.
After a scoreless spell and a timeout, DeLano Thomas drew up a play for Rhodes and wasn’t let down as the senior connected from deep with six seconds to go to give Shawnee State an 83-82 lead. The ensuing Central State possession with 3.6 seconds remaining resulted in a Jayllen Carter steal, and the senior connected on a pair of free throws from the line to seal the win as Chris Scott’s desperation heave rimmed out.
Tamal Watkins had 20 points to lead Shawnee State. Matt Rhodes added a career-high 17 points, Justin Johnson had 12 and Jayllen Carter added 10 for the Bears.
Chris Scott led all scorers with 28 points for Central State. Davone Daniels had 17 points, all in the second half, Frank Barber III added 16 and Jeremy Brown had 12 for the Marauders.
The win improves Shawnee State to 9-7 on the season. Central State falls to 4-11. SSU picks up a win in the all-time series and now trails Central State 5-4.
The Shawnee State men’s basketball program returns to Mid-South Conference play on Thursday night when they host No. 8 Lindsey Wilson. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.