PORTSMOUTH – Shawnee State University men’s and women’s basketball teams each earned wins in a Mid-South Conference double-header versus Life University on Saturday.
*Note: This still will be ran in Tuesday’s print edition of the Daily Times.*
No. 7 SSU WBB uses big second-half to down Life Univ.
Despite holding a narrow one-point advantage over Mid-South Conference foe Life University, the Shawnee State University women’s team was able to use a big second-half to down the Running Eagles of Life 85-66 Saturday afternoon in MSC play.
“They were a really good team, so we were really happy with our performance in the second half,” Bears coach Jeff Nickel following the win. “Our seniors were awesome. Bailey Cummins did a great job of handling their pressure, getting us into our offense, and our kids did an awesome job of making some great plays. Sydney King was very good on the boards for us and was able to get out of her offensive struggles. Freshman Bethany Mackey was really special today – great defensively, great on offense. Proud of her performance and how far she’s came in the early part of the season.”
Saturday afternoon’s win was the Bears third-straight win and improved their overall mark to 11-1 and 2-0 in Mid-South Conference play.
The Bears’ defense was the main reason they held a 33-32 advantage over the Eagles at the half.
Through the first 20-minutes, SSU forced Life to shoot just 13/37 from the field and 2/6 from three while also forcing ten Running Eagle turnovers.
Where their defense excelled in the first half, the offense slightly struggled. With eight turnovers compared to just three assists through the first 20 minutes and an 0/2 clip from behind-the-arc, SSU still was able to etch-out a one point lead at the break.
“I don’t think we were doing a very good job in that first half of using our entries, and being able to get in-and-out of our offense,” Nickel said. “I thought we did a great job of that the entire second half, and I think our defensive intensity helped out with a lot of that.”
Whatever slight woes plagued the Bears offense in the first half were certainly cured by the start of the second.
In the first 5:30 minutes of the third quarter, SSU used a 21-12 run to jump out to a 54-44 lead by the media timeout.
That 21-12 run turned into a 33-point scoring outburst in the third quarter as the Bears edged Life 33-18 in that frame.
Another strong quarter in the fourth saw the Bears increase their lead to as high as 27 with 3:01 left in the game before Nickel was able to use his reserves and put a cap on their second MSC win in as many tries this season.
SSU was led by senior guard Bailey Cummins who finished with a game-high 23 points with seven assists and four rebounds.
Freshman guard Bethany Mackin (Martinsville, Ind.) finished second on the team in scoring with 16 points and five rebounds. Aniya Pride led the Bears from inside with a 15-point, seven rebound performance in Saturday’s win.
Senior Syndey King finished with 10 points and a team-high eight rebound while 2017 Notre Dame graduate Hagen Schaefer finished with eight points including two key second-half threes directly in front of the Bears’ bench.
Brandie Snow and Carson Roney each finished with five points, Marnae Holland finished with two, and Natalie Zuchowski finished with one.
“We’ve got a lot of unsung heroes,” Nickel said of his team following the win. “They might not necessarily show up in the stat sheet, but they’re playing great defense, and we’re doing a great job of making this about ‘we’ rather than ‘me’. Really proud of our attitude and where we’ve came in such a short amount of time.”
The Shawnee State University women’s team will be back in action Friday, December 13th when they will host the 2019 Penn Station Classic and will face Faulkner University at 6:00 p.m. inside Waller Gymnasium. before facing the University of the Virgin Islands on Saturday, December 14th in day two of the Penn Station Classic.
(RV) SSU clamps down No. 18 Life University in MSC play
Boasting the No. 1 shooting defense (32.4% field goal percentage) in NAIA Division I this season, the Shawnee State University men’s basketball team showcased that very defense to those in attendance at Waller Gymnasium for the Bears’ 61-50 home win over the No. 18 ranked Life University Running Eagles in their second game of Mid-South Conference play.
With the win, the Bears improve to 8-3 (1-1 MSC), while also picking up their first win of the season over a ranked opponent in their second try in bounce-back style.
The Bears dropped their MSC opener Thursday in overtime versus Cumberland University (Tn.), so needless to say a better performance in Saturday’s game was key for Bears coach Delano Thomas to see.
“We hang our hat on our defense and our rebounding,” Thomas said following the win. “It was good to see us come out like this after dropping a game Thursday versus Cumberland (Tn.). It was good to see our guys learn from that game and to come out and be able to hold onto our lead down the stretch.”
Shawnee State was simply excellent on the defensive end in the first half, excellent enough that the 14-point halftime deficit the Running Eagles faced was unrecoverable in the second half.
Taking a 30-16 lead into the halftime locker room, the Bears’ defense limited the Running Eagles to just 8-for-30 from the field in the first half, as well as an 0-for-11 clip from behind-the-arc.
The Bears out-rebounded the Running Eagles 24-14 through the first half, and by a 38-26 margin by game’s end.
In the second half, Life connected on 6-of-9 threes, but still struggled to shoot 18-for-55 (23.7%) for the game, another credit to the Bears’ excellent defensive outing.
“Didn’t really like what we did on the offensive end, we shot a lot of shots and didn’t score,” Thomas said. “We had opportunities to attack the basket and settled, so it was good to see us in the second half attack the basket. Defensive-wise we did a really good job holding them to 0-for-11, second half they made some threes. It’s never going to be perfect, but that attention to detail is something we’ll stress moving forward.”
Life outscored Shawnee State 34-31 in the second half, but the already established margin was too much for the Running Eagles to overcome.
Shawnee State senior Kyree Elder led the Bears with a game-high 14 points and a game-high nine rebounds, Justin Johnson finished with 12 points and three rebounds, Tim Biakapia finished with 10 points and six rebounds, EJ Onu finished with nine points, and Desmond Crosby Jr. and Selby Hind-Wills each finished with eight in Saturday’s win.
Shawnee State will prepare to hit the road Tuesday, December 10th in non-conference play where they will take on rival the University of Rio Grande RedStorm.
“Rival coming up on Tuesday, so that’s going to be a huge game,” Thomas said. “For us playing at Rio, we have to be prepared to play. Those guys are going to play gritty and hard. So we’re going to be focused on winning Tuesday.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved