No. 11 SSU downs No. 14 MANU

Fueled by outstanding efforts from Brandie Snow, Anyia Pride, and Carson Roney, the trio’s combined total of 54 points and 18 rebounds, along with Bailey Cummins’ steady play that resulted in a 10-point, eight-rebound line, the No. 11-ranked women’s basketball program at Shawnee State defeated No. 14 MidAmerica Nazarene and obtained Jeff Nickel’s 175th career victory in the process in the Bears’ 80-73 victory over the Pioneers on Saturday afternoon at the Oman Arena in Jackson, Tenn.

Shawnee State, who improved to 9-1 overall with the seven-point win, shot 46 percent for the contest (29-of-63) to outshoot MidAmerica Nazarene’s 43.1 percent mark (28-of-65) from the floor. The Bears also obtained a plus-six edge in the rebounding category (40-34) and collected 10 steals, including four in a critical fourth-quarter swing where SSU outscored the Pioneers by a 32-19 margin en route to the win.

Over the opening four minutes of work, the Bears and the Pioneers trailed the point three times before Shawnee State took control over the remainder of the first period.

Down 8-6 with 6:09 to play in the opening quarter, Shawnee State gapped MidAmerica Nazarene by going on an 11-0 burst that was aided by baskets inside from Pride, Cummins, Roney, and Bethany Mackin, along with a three-pointer from Snow over a span of 2:59 (from the 5:57 to 2:28 marks in the first quarter) to collect a 17-8 advantage. Snow then added in a bucket with 45 seconds remaining in the first stanza to give the Bears a 20-14 lead after the opening 10 minutes of action.

The tide, however, reversed in the second quarter. While Pride scored five straight points for Shawnee State to begin the second quarter — which allowed the Bears to hold a 27-23 advantage with 6:48 remaining in the half — a 16-2 run by MidAmerica Nazarene over a span of 5:46 led to MidAmerica Nazarene taking a 39-29 lead with 1:02 to play as five SSU turnovers during the run proved to be costly.

Down by its largest margin of the half, Shawnee State redeemed itself as the Bears scored twice inside the final minute, with a quick touch inside to Natalie Zuchowski with 44 seconds to play and a Cummins assist to Roney with two seconds remaining in the half resulting in a 5-0 push that cut the MidAmerica Nazarene lead to five, 39-34, at the halftime break.

Fueled by the five-point swing to end the second half, the Bears got two buckets over a 19-second stretch from Pride and Snow to cut the MidAmerica Nazarene lead to 41-38, then cut into the lead further as a free throw from Snow and a bucket apiece from Cummins and Wingeier put Shawnee State within one, 44-43, with 5:20 to play in the third quarter of action. Mackenzie Loe and the Pioneers, however, kept SSU at bay as Loe scored four consecutive points to end the quarter while MidAmerica Nazarene increased its lead to a 54-48 margin at the end of the third period.

Unfazed by the run from the Pioneers, the Bears went to work in the fourth quarter.

Down by seven points on two different occasions, Shawnee State obtained four consecutive points from Marnae Holland to cut a 58-51 deficit down to a 58-55 margin with 6:56 to play. When MidAmerica Nazarene pushed the lead back up to a 62-55 edge, Snow, Pride, and Roney stepped in — once and for all.

Following a pair of free throws from Pride with 5:58 to play, Snow and Pride scored consecutive baskets over a 14 second stretch on fastbreak opportunities after steals from the pair cut the MidAmerica Nazarene lead to one, 62-61, with 5:34 to go. The Bears then got a defensive rebound from Cummins, and after a missed shot from the senior, Roney snatched up a critical offensive board off of the glass and put a shot back up and in to give SSU a 63-62 lead with 4:52 to play.

Pride then scored off of her own steal on another fastbreak and knocked down three of her four free throw attempts, while Snow connected on a dagger trey to the heart with a three-pointer with 3:41 to play in between Pride’s personal spurt. Roney, who was huge in the final period herself by posting five points and four rebounds in the fourth quarter, put in an and-one off of an offensive rebound to extend the SSU lead to 74-67 with 1:54 to go and put the game out of reach as a result of her efforts.

In the victory, Pride, who posted a new career-high with 23 points in the contest, shot 7-of-10 from the field and went 9-of-12 from the free throw stripe while adding in five rebounds and two steals to her total. Snow, who finished in double-figures for the ninth time in 10 games to start the 2019-20 season, finished with 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds in the affair.

Roney’s 11 points and six rebounds on 4-of-8 shooting, along with Cummins’ 10 points and eight assists, were also paramount in the final result.

With his 175th career victory, Nickel moved his coaching line to a stellar 175-48 mark. The 2005 graduate of Shawnee State now owns a 78.4 winning percentage in his seventh campaign as the Bears’ head coach.

With the victory, No. 11 SSU will return home for a pair of Mid-South Conference matchups against Cumberland (Tenn.) and Life (Ga.) as part of the traditional MSC women’s and men’s basketball doubleheaders that come with conference play. The Bears will play Cumberland on Thursday, Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. and Life on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 2 p.m.

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