Bears never trail in 64-49 victory over (RV) Saints

In a Mid-South Conference contest against Thomas More, the men’s basketball program at Shawnee State University completed the conference doubleheader sweep as the Bears, who took a 14-4 lead to begin the contest, never trailed in a 64-49 victory over the Saints behind four double-figure outings and a splendid defensive performance at the Connor Convocation Center in Crestview Hills, Ky.

Shawnee State, who came into Saturday’s contest with the nation’s No. 1 ranked unit in defensive three-point field goal percentage (34.5), used their length to hold Thomas More’s efficient 53.9 percent shooting unit to a 33.3 percent mark (20-of-60) in Saturday’s contest. SSU, who shot 24-of-57 by comparison, also used their size effectively on the glass, as the Bears claimed a massive 51-24 rebounding advantage over the Saints to move to 12-4 overall and 2-1 in the MSC.

Throughout the contest, Kyree Elder’s production was splendid. The senior scored 16 of his game-high 20 points in the first half, including a stretch where Elder scored eight of Shawnee State’s first 10 points en route to giving the Bears a 14-4 advantage with 14:33 in the opening half.

When Thomas More cut that lead to a 16-9 gap, Elder continued his hot spell by knocking down his third trey from the right wing and throwing in a putback jam off of a missed layup attempt to knock down each of his first five shots SSU a 19-9 lead with 11:01 to play in the opening half, then added in a dunk in traffic with 9:59 to go to give the Bears a 21-11 lead behind his 13 points during the stretch.

Unrelenting in their effort, Thomas More (12-2, 0-2 MSC) cut Shawnee State’s lead down to a 28-23 margin but never came any closer as the Bears, with four points off of dump offs to EJ Onu and another trey from Elder, posted a 36-25 advantage before heading into the halftime break with a 36-28 lead.

The Bears kept the eight-point lead intact to the 17:14 mark of the second half, continued to grow the margin by holding the Saints to just eight made field goals and a 32 percent shooting mark from the floor in the final 20 minutes of action. SSU, who put seven players in the scoring column in the first half of play, had five of those seven players — Elder, Onu, Justin Johnson, Tim Biakapia, Selby Hind-Wills, and Desmond Crosby, Jr. — get on the scoreboard in the victory as the Bears grew their lead.

Elder, who finished with 16 points in the opening half of competition, collected 20 points and nine rebounds on 6-of-12 shooting to lead the Bears’ efforts while Onu added in 13 points, nine rebounds and three blocks on a 6-of-10 mark. Biakapia’s 11 points and seven rebounds on 4-of-7 from the field and Justin Johnson’s 5-of-8 from the floor, which resulted in 10 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists, rounded out the four double-figure scorers for the Bears.

With the victory, Shawnee State will turn its attention to No. 1 Georgetown as the Bears take on the Tigers in the second part of another Mid-South Conference doubleheader. The contest, which begins at 8 p.m., will be preceded by the No. 7 ranked SSU women’s basketball program and the Georgetown women, who will play at 6 p.m.

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