PORTSMOUTH – What better way to avenge a double digit road loss just sixteen days prior than to win the rematch by nine?
That’s exactly what the Shawnee State Bears men’s basketball team was able to do in their win over Thomas More College Monday night on their home court, 72-63.
“It’s huge to win against anybody,” said Shawnee State head coach Delano Thomas following the home win Monday night. “I thought it was great the way the guys got things going early tonight. Thomas More is a very worthy opponent, a very good team, and they’re coming off a nine win streak, so that’s huge for us. Just knowing that and being able to come out and execute our game plan was big.”
The Bears got things going early and often, jumping out to a 10-6 lead just two and a half minutes into the contest, and would never look back from there. Chris Byrd scored five of those ten points and entered halftime with a second-team high seven points, trailing only Juwan Grant who had a team high eight points at the break.
“I thought that was great, a great start for us,” said Thomas. “When we subbed, our next five was ready to go and that was great to see because we want to hit teams in different ways, and we did a good job of doing that today.”
Amazingly enough, SSU nearly outshot Thomas More by double in the first half. The Bears entered the locker room shooting an astounding 60.7% from the field while the Saints shot just 34.6% from the field.
“For a team like that to shoot as well as they do and move as well as they do, it was good to see us take them out of their comfort zone a little bit in that first half. But you see in the second half, a team like that move without the ball, the layups and threes they were able to get, they’re a very a good team.”
In the second half, the Bears lead never was less than eight points, keeping the Saints at arms’ length for the entire portion of the second half despite shooting 10/28 for 35.7% from the field during the final twenty minutes.
Grant matched his first half total in the second half by scoring eight in each frame for a combined 16 points, a team high for the Bears. Chris Byrd finished with six second half points to follow Grant’s lead as he finished with 13. Sophomore big man EJ Onu also finished in double figures with 11 points. Each Bear that played, which happened to be eleven players, all scored at least two points in their win over the Saints.
“Those are two of the older guys that we have,” said Thomas when speaking on Grant and Byrd’s games Monday night. “One’s a senior, one’s a junior. Senior in Juwan played great as far as taking his time, and not trying to rush anything or force anything. Chris did what he was supposed to do and that’s anytime he’s open, shoot the basketball. It looked like he shot with a ton of confidence today.”
Prior to getting back into Mid-South play on Saturday vs. Lindsey Wilson College, Shawnee State will host Cumberland University (TN.) in the two’s first meeting of the season on Thursday.
“Just keep building,” said Thomas when asked about what his team needed to continue to work on prior to Thursday’s game, “Be thankful we’re at home, take advantage of that. If we come out with that same intensity but raise it a couple of notches because Cumberland Tennessee is a very good team and well coached, we’ll be fine.”
Shawnee State: 40-32 – 72
Thomas More: 25-38 – 63
Shawnee State: 27/56 FG (48.2%), 6/19 3PT (31.6%), 12/14 FT (85.7%). Scoring: Grant 16, Byrd 13, Onu 11, Johnson 6, Jackson 6, Watkins 6, Crawford 6, Hind-Wills 4, Biakapia 2, Brown 2
Thomas More: 22/54 FG, 7/21 3 PT, 12/16 FT.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT