Portsmouth, OH – Shawnee State Women’s Basketball defeated Rocky Mountain College 65-57 in the opening round of the NAIA National Tournament on Thursday night. The win advances the Bears to the Sweet 16 for the eighth time in nine tournament appearences.
SSU will face Clarke (Iowa) in the sweet 16 after impressive collaborative play pushed them past Rocky Mountain College in the first round.
Against RMC, the Bears shot 37.1 percent on 23 of 62 shooting from the field. Shawnee managed to connect on seven three pointers on 26 attempts and capitalized at the free throw line shooting 12 of 13 for 92.3 percent. SSU dominated the boards, outrebounding Rocky Mountain 47 to 30.
Rocky Mountain college hit 21 of 57 shots from the field to finish at 36.8 percent. The Battlin’ Bears only made two three pointers on 13 attempts for 15.4 percent, not hitting their first until the second half. RMC made good on 13 of 16 from the free throw line for 81.3 percent.
Four seed Shawnee State boasted a balanced scoring effort, with four scorers finishing in double digits. Ashton Lovely (SR/Jamestown, Ohio) got back into the swing of things, dropping 13 points, grabbing five rebounds and adding three assists. Hannah Miller (SR/Coal Grove, Ohio) also scored 13 while hitting all six of her free throw attempts. Bailey Cummins (JR/Brooksville, Kentucky) also managed double figures, finishing with 11 points and dishing out four assists. Sydney King (JR/Birmingham, Alabama) came up big not only scoring 11 points but also grabbing 10 rebounds to finish with a double-double.
Rocky Mountain College controlled the first four minutes of action, going on a 7-2 run to open the game. The Bears bounced back after a Sydney King three pointer and a Bailey Cummins floater tied the game at seven with 4:29 to go. The rest of the first quarter consisted of back and forth buckets with SSU holding a 15-14 advantage after 10 minutes played.
The first five minutes of the second period didn’t see either team establish a strong lead, as both squads traded buckets. With just under five minutes until half, Ashton Lovely would hit a mid range jumper that sparked a 10-2 run that put SSU up 32-24 with 3:23 left. Shawnee held on to lead 32-26 going into halftime.
In the third, Shawnee would take their biggest lead of the game after a 7-3 run put them ahead 43-33 with 5:42 to go. RMC broke to within single digits with three minutes remaining in the quarter, trailing 47-38. Hannah Miller would hit a free throw with under a minute to play in the third to put the Bears back up by 10, they would lead 55-43 going into the fourth.
The Bears were in control for most of the final period, Leah Wingeier (SO/Newark, Ohio) made good on a second chance bucket that made the score 62-47 SSU with 6:12 remaining in the contest. Rocky Mountain would fight back towards the end of the period, going on a 10-1 run while the Bears managed clock. The Battlin’ Bears could not manage to get over the hump and Shawnee would go on to wind by a final score of 65-57.
Shawnee State’s sweet 16 matchup against Clarke (Iowa) comes after the No. 8 seed Pride upset No.1 seed Columbia in the first round earlier Thursday afternoon. The matchup between the Bears and Pride is slated for 8:00PM MTN/10:00PM EST tomorrow, Friday March 15.