The Shawnee State men’s basketball saw its season come to an end on Friday morning, falling to top seed Pikeville (Ky.) 92-89 in the first round of the Mid-South Conference Tournament at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Pikeville.
The first half featured a strong showing from seniors Matt Rhodes (SR/Westerville, Ohio) and Frederick Moore (SR/Cincinnati, Ohio). Moore opened the scoring for Shawnee State with a jump-hook in the post. However, UPike would go on to claim the lead, and threatened to run away with the game early, going on a seven-point run en route to a 37-27 advantage with around eleven minutes remaining in the half. However, Shawnee State was able to cut the deficit heading into the break, as SSU trailed by a scant 51-48 margin.
Rhodes, who shot an incredible seven-of-seven from the field, proved to be the story of the first half as the Westerville native knocked down five three pointers en route to a 19-point first-half outing. Frederick Moore was also responsible for keeping SSU in the game by scoring 17 points in the first half.
Shawnee State came out of the half with energy, and not only tied the game, but took the lead. With 13:25 remaining in the second half, Jayllen Carter (SR/Portsmouth, Ohio) hit a game-tying three followed by a Frederick Moore triple from the top of the arc to give Shawnee State a 64-61 lead. Then, with 11 minutes remaining in the game, Mid-South Conference Freshman of the Year EJ Onu (FR/Cleveland, Ohio) hit a three-pointer followed by a Jayllen Carter lay-up to give Shawnee State a ten-point lead (73-63), which proved to be the Bears’ largest lead of the contest.
However, turnovers would prove to cost SSU as four straight offensive possessions led to Pikeville taking a 82-81 lead on a Jordan Perry corner three. Shawnee State tried to battle back, and, on an incredible shot from Frederick Moore — who had two defenders draped all over him — cut the deficit to 90-87 with 22 seconds remaining on Moore’s three-pointer. Bryan Rolfe (SO/Lucasville, Ohio) stole the inbounds pass and Matt Rhodes took a wide open three that just missed the mark. Moore was able to fight for the rebound and was fouled. After making both shots, SSU was down by just one point with sixteen seconds remaining, but were unable to get a final stop and fell by a final score of 92-89.
Frederick Moore scored a game-high 25 points to lead Shawnee State, while also grabbing 13 rebounds. Matt Rhodes scored 24, Jayllen Carter had 19 and EJ Onu added 14 tallies to go along with six blocks.
Jayvian Delacruz had 18 points to lead Pikeville. Jordan Perry added 17, Darrion Leslie had 16, Rodney Hawkins had 15 and Rze Culbreath added 13.
The loss brought Shawnee State’s season to an end as the Bears finished with a 14-17 overall mark. Pikeville improves to 28-3 and moves on to the semifinals of the Mid-South Conference Tournament, where UPike will play No. 5 Campbellsville (Ky.) — an 82-64 winner over No. 4 Life (Ga.) — on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.
Onu wins MSC DPOY, MSC Freshman of Year Award; Carter earns All-MSC, All-Academic honors
The Shawnee State men’s basketball program earned a number of Mid-South Conference awards at the MSC basketball banquet on Thursday evening, with EJ Onu (FR/Cleveland, Ohio) being named Mid-South Conference Freshman of the Year and Randy Vernon Defensive Player of the Year.
Onu started in 29 of Shawnee State’s 30 games this season, averaging 9.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Onu blocked 97 shots over the course of the regular season, easily breaking DeLano Thomas’ record for blocks in a single season, and also broke Thomas’ single game block record, recording 11 against Cumberland (Tenn.) on Jan. 13. Onu averaged 3.5 blocks per game, leading the conference in both blocks and blocks per game, and was ranked second in NAIA Division I in both categories. Onu is the first winner of both awards in program history.
Shawnee State also had two players named All-Mid-South Conference. Portsmouth’s Jayllen Carter and Frederick Moore (SR/Cincinnati, Ohio) both earned All-MSC honors for the 2017-18 season. Carter led SSU in scoring, averaging 15.0 points per game over the course of the season, while Moore averaged 14.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game en route to leading the team in the latter category.
In addition to his all-conference award, Carter was also named All-Academic MSC. To be eligible for the award, each student-athlete be a sophomore academically, have been at Shawnee State for at least two semesters, and must have maintained at least a 3.25 cumulative GPA. Carter was the only Bear eligible for the award this season.
For continued coverage of the Shawnee State men’s basketball program, go to ssubears.com. for more information.