SSU Men shock Cedarville

Johnson hits clutch free throws to beat D2 Yellow Jackets

Justin Johnson hit two clutch free throws to upset Division II Cedarville on Saturday for the Bears.

Justin Johnson hit two clutch free throws to upset Division II Cedarville on Saturday for the Bears.

Cedarville, Ohio – Shawnee State men’s basketball bounced back from Friday’s loss for a stunning upset on Saturday, with Justin Johnson’s free throws with 1.1 seconds to go giving the Bears an 80-79 win over Cedarville (Ohio) on day two of the Don Callan Classic.

SSU would open the game with an EJ Onu dunk and Gavin Brown three pointer to go up 5-0 early. Cedarville would bounce back immediately, going on a 12-2 run to go up 12-7, capped by a basket by Kollin Van Horn. SSU would snap the run and keep the game close; Gavin Brown would hit a three with 12:53 to go in the first half to cut the lead to 18-17, and Onu would give the Bears the lead at 19-18 just moments later inside. Tamal Watkins would make the lead 4 and the run 8-0 with a three of his own to put SSU up 22-18.

This SSU lead would eventually swell to seven points on a pair of Juwan Grant free throws at 27-20, the largest SSU had held to that point. Cedarville would begin to chip away at that lead; Conner TenHove and Branden Maughmer both hit threes to cut the lead to 27-26. Michael Hubbert would convert from the high post to extend the lead back out to three, but Colton Linkous would respond with a three to tie the game at 29-29. Tim Biakapia would then hit a tough lay-in on a baseline drive, but Maughmer would get another three to put Cedarville back on top at 32-31. The two teams would go score-for-score, and the Yellow Jackets would lead 36-35 with 3:13 to halftime.

At that point, Shawnee State would begin a run to take the lead at the break. Justin Johnson started the run by burying a pair of free throws, and then Austin Crawford would split a pair to make the lead 38-36. Onu would hit a put-back to make the lead four, and Watkins would make a tough jumper to extend SSU’s lead out to 42-36. Watkins wasn’t done, and after a Cedarville turnover, would split the Yellow Jackets’ box press with the dribble and hit a tough reverse lay-up at the buzzer to give SSU a 44-36 lead heading to halftime.

Shawnee State would maintain their lead in the earliest stages of the second half, but Cedarville responded. The Yellow Jackets would begin a 9-0 run to take the lead with a Maughmer basket; the freshman would follow with a three to cut the lead to five three points, and back-to-back buckets for Grant Zawadzki would put the Yellow Jackets up 49-48. SSU answered, and the two team would trade buckets as SSU went up 52-51 on a Chris Byrd basket, but Isaiah Speelman would drain a three to put Cedarville up 54-52. Shawnee State would get a response to tie the game back up at 56-56, but three straight Cedarville shots would give the Yellow Jackets a 62-56 lead with 10:25 to go.

Although Cedarville had the lead, they could not shake Shawnee State. From the 9:11 to the 5:45 mark, Shawnee State would keep the game a one-possession game. Linkous and Robert Okoro made the lead 75-69 with 4:54 to go, but again Shawnee State would rally to cut the lead back down. Selby Hind-Wills hit a move in the post, and Brown would get another three to cut the lead to one point. From the 3:46 mark, the lead would not build above one possession.

The last minute of the game would see Shawnee State snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. EJ Onu would be fouled on an offensive rebound by Zawadzki, seeing the senior guard foul out. Onu hit both free throws to cut the Cedarville lead to 79-78. SSU then latched down defensively on the next possession, forcing a Cedarville shot clock violation to get the ball back. Cedarville responded by busting SSU’s play on the other end, forcing a Bears timeout. Out of the timeout, Tamal Watkins would lob a ball up to Justin Johnson; Johnson missed his shot, but was fouled on the way up by Quinton Green. Johnson, who entered the game shooting 53.6% from the free throw line, hit both shots to give SSU an 80-79 lead. Hind-Wills would steal the ensuing inbound pass to give SSU the win, a road upset over the NCAA Division II Yellow Jackets.

Shawnee State shot 27-55 from the field for a shooting percentage of 49.1%. The Bears were 7-17 from three for 41.2%, and SSU’s 19-22 clip from the free throw line was by far their best of the season, as SSU shot 86.4% from the charity stripe. Shawnee State were outrebounded by Cedarville 38-29, but the Yellow Jackets committed 17 turnovers to SSU’s 14.

Gavin Brown scored a career-high 22 points in the win, shooting 6-9 from three in the process. EJ Onu and Justin Johnson each added 16 points in the win, the only other Bears in double figures.

Branden Maughmer had a game-high 30 points to lead Cedarville. Grant Zawadzki added 12, and Conner TenHove and Colton Linkous both had 10 points.

The win sees Shawnee State improve to 4-1 on the season. Cedarville fall to 2-2. The Bears improve in the all-time series against Cedarville to 22-18, snapping a three-game losing streak to the Yellow Jackets. The Bears also claim their first win over a NCAA Division II opponent since last season, when they defeated Central State (Ohio) 85-82 in Portsmouth on January 8.

Shawnee State men’s basketball get six days off before returning to action on Friday, November 23 for game one of the William Penn Thanksgiving Classic against Presentation College (S.D.). Tipoff is set for 5:00pm Eastern in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

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Justin Johnson hit two clutch free throws to upset Division II Cedarville on Saturday for the Bears. Johnson hit two clutch free throws to upset Division II Cedarville on Saturday for the Bears.
Johnson hits clutch free throws to beat D2 Yellow Jackets