Pritchard has career night in Bears win

Just two days after a career-high 18-point performance from Desmond Crosby, Jr., Dak Prichard added in easily the best performance of his young Shawnee State career as the junior from Lima, Ohio posted an exceptional 24-point outing on 8-of-14 shooting from beyond the arc to lead four double-figure scorers for the Bears (10-3) in the men’s basketball program’s 99-66 blasting of Northwestern Ohio (2-9) on Thursday evening at Waller Gymnasium in Portsmouth.

Prichard, along with Kyree Elder (16 points, nine rebounds, seven assists), Justin Johnson (13 points, three rebounds, two steals), and EJ Onu (13 points, six rebounds, five blocks), all added in double-figures while Jakiel Wells added in nine points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Bears, who shot 58.3 percent (35-of-60) from the field and 38.2 percent (13-of-34) from three-point range. Johnson and Onu, in particular, went 11-of-12 from the floor together, while Elder and Wells combined for 13 assists to just two turnovers for a 6.5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

As has been the story throughout most of its contests in 2019, Elder’s scoring proved to be vital for Shawnee State, especially in the early going. The senior from Antioch, Tenn. scored on a sick spin move and finish with 18:37 to play in the opening half while the senior added in a pair of free throws with 17:34 to go in the same frame. That proved to be critical for Shawnee State as the Bears fell behind by a 9-4 count early, forcing DeLano Thomas to take a timeout with just over 16 minutes in the opening half of competition. Wells followed by scoring five straight points in a row, including a three from the right wing with 14:32 to play, to tie the score at nine apiece before Alex Cluff answered back with his own trey with 14:09 to go to give Northwestern Ohio a 12-9 advantage.

However, when Elder and Selby Hind-Wills scored back-to-back buckets in the paint, it began a 13-0 push that was punctuated by two excellent passes from Wells, who whipped a pass over from the baseline to a wide-open Prichard from deep for one bucket and found Elder in transition on a crisp bounce pass to the right side, and a steal and finish by Johnson in transition, to give SSU a 22-12 lead.

Fueled by making his first trey of the evening, Prichard didn’t slow down.

The junior from Lima, Ohio canned four additional treys in the opening half as Shawnee State held off Northwestern’s Ohio’s stout offensive shooting behind Prichard’s 15 first-half points and Onu’s five points over a 45-second span with under four minutes to go in the first half. Their 22 combined points in the opening half of play, along with Elder’s eight points and four rebounds, allowed SSU to overcome UNOH’s red-hot 14-of-22 shooting in the first half — and 8-of-11 mark from deep — and obtain a 50-41 halftime lead.

In the second half, Onu, Johnson, and Elder took charge. Johnson posted four consecutive points over the second half’s first 75 seconds, while Onu put up a two-handed throwdown off of an offensive rebound. Elder, meanwhile, not only nailed a pair of free throws, but stole a pass and dropped off a beautiful behind-the-back pass to Johnson who threw down a two-handed flush to give Shawnee State its largest lead of the contest, 60-43, with 17:44 to play in the game.

From there, Shawnee State didn’t slow down. The Bears got the lead back up to 17 points, 71-54, on a Wells rebound and putback with 12:03 to go in the second half of competition, and continued to push the lead with Hind-Wills adding a pair of free throws with 9:31 to go in the game.

Prichard, along with Desmond Crosby, added in back-to-back treys to push the SSU lead to 81-58 with 7:14 to play, and Elder scored on a drive through contact to increase the advantage to 83-58 with 6:14 to go. Fittingly, Prichard capped off his excellent performance by knocking down back-to-back attempts, including an attempt from the left corner with 2:54 to play that increased Shawnee State’s lead to 91-60, while Hind-Wills scored on a layup and De’Andre Price added in back-to-back treys to push the lead up to as much as 35 points, 99-64, to cruise to the win.

In addition to the previously mentioned stats, Hind-Wills added in seven points and five rebounds in 15 minutes of game action, while Crosby, Jr. and Price each added six points themselves in the win.

With the victory, Shawnee State will turn its attention to a Saturday afternoon contest against Great Lakes Christian, who was recently ranked as the No. 1 unit in the NCCAA Division II rankings. That contest will begin at 4 p.m.

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