Cummins scores career-high 36 in SSU win over Wilmington

In a fast-paced affair, the No. 7-ranked women’s basketball program at Shawnee State got a career-high 36-point outing from Bailey Cummins while Natalie Zuchowski shot a perfect 7-of-7 from the floor for 15 points in just 14 minutes of game action and Carson Roney added in a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds in Shawnee State’s 105-87 victory over NCAA Division III Wilmington College on Wednesday evening at Waller Gymnasium.

As a team, the Bears (14-1) eclipsed the 100-point plateau for the fifth time during the 2019-20 season by shooting a proficient 53.8 percent from the field. The Bears, while allowing Wilmington to shot 50 percent from the floor, obtained a massive 39-22 rebounding advantage as a team to offset that shooting percentage and take an 18-point triumph despite the aforementioned shooting mark and Wilmington’s 10-of-15 mark from distance.

Down 9-6 in the early going, Cummins’ and Brandie Snow’s ability to attack the basket allowed Shawnee State to take the lead as the pair combined for 11 consecutive Shawnee State points to give the Bears a 17-12 advantage with 2:46 to go in the opening frame. Snow picked up her second foul of the opening quarter just 20 seconds later, but Marnae Holland’s activity resulted in a rebound and putback with 1:15 to play and gave Shawnee State a 20-16 lead after the first 10 minutes of action.

In the second frame, Holland continued to produce. Following a bucket by McKayla Binkley that allowed Wilmington to cut the lead to a 22-20 gap, the Bears increased the lead as Shawnee State used Cummins’ feathery touch around the rim, along with five straight points from Holland, to push the advantage up to as much as nine. Cummins, who scored a team-high 16 points at the half on 7-of-9 shooting, worked her way inside for a layup with 8:29 to play in the half, while Holland accounted for five straight points over a 36-second stretch.

As a result of those contributions, along with the Bears’ 18-of-39 shooting from the field (46.2 percent) in the opening half of competition and Shawnee State’s massive 21-11 rebounding advantage over the first 20 minutes of action, SSSU was able to hold off 11 first-half points from Wilmington’s McKayla Binkley and 15-of-30 shooting for the Quakers in the first pair of frames to obtain a 43-37 halftime advantage.

Unfazed by the work that Shawnee State did to extend the lead, Wilmington worked its way back within two as Michelle Lee scored four points for the Bears over the first 1:33 to cut the Quakers’ lead to a pair, 45-43, with 8:27 to play.

Cummins, however, kept taking advantage of Wilmington’s inability to stop offensive penetration immediately following baskets. During the first 4:01 of the third quarter, the senior scored or assisted on each of Shawnee State’s field goals during the stretch as the Bears took a 56-50 lead with 5:59 to go, with Cummins going 3-for-3 from the field, 2-for-2 from the charity stripe, and adding in an assist during that stretch.

When Wilmington rallied back to within two, 56-54, Shawnee State answered back as Holland drained a three-point basket with 4:30 remaining, while Cummins and Zuchowski followed with buckets in the paint to push the SSU lead to a 63-54 count. The trio ended up scoring each of the Bears’ next 18 points following the slight two-point edge, with Zuchowski scoring five points in under a minute’s time and Cummins adding in a swipe and finish to take a 74-59 margin.

The lead, which remained at double-digits through the end of the third frame, was extended out to as much as 22, 89-67, as the Bears went on a game-sealing 13-3 run. Snow posted five of those 13 tallies by scoring on a three in transition and converting a layup off of a turnover to seal the game’s final result.

In addition to the previously listed individual stats, Snow’s 12 points and five rebounds, along with Holland’s nine points and three assists, were also big numbers for the Bears on the offensive end. Roney, Cummins, and Zuchowski combined for seven steals to help lead SSU’s defensive effort.

Shawnee State will be back in action on Saturday, Dec. 28 when the Bears host Wilberforce in what will be SSU’s final home contest in 2019. Game time is at 2 p.m. For the Dec. 28 contest, the SSU Athletic Department will be offering free admission to fans who will be bringing in donations of non-perishable goods for the women’s basketball program’s Dec. 28 contest against Wilberforce. The goods, which will go to Shawnee State’s Bear Necessites Pantry, are to serve students who are experiencing food insecurity or hunger. The pantry also keeps personal care items and basic school supplies in its shortage.

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