The women’s basketball program at Shawnee State University, down by a 59-55 margin with just under two minutes to play in a Mid-South Conference contest against Thomas More, used a balanced scoring effort and critical defensive stops by multiple players to obtain a huge 67-64 victory to allow the No. 7-ranked Bears to move to 16-1 overall and 3-0 in the MSC with its three-point road victory in Crestview Hills, Ky. on Saturday afternoon at the Connor Convocation Center.
Shawnee State, who went 26-of-70 from the field compared to Thomas More’s 24-of-57 from the floor, collected a plus-four margin on the boards by outrebounding the Saints by a 41-37 count. The Bears also forced 20 turnovers while only committing 15 of their own, leading to Shawnee State’s edge in shot attempts.
After trailing by a 9-2 margin to begin the contest, the Bears rallied back into contention during the affair behind the gritty play of Carson Roney. In 10 minutes of first half action, the junior forward scored 11 points from the time she was inserted into the contest with 7:02 to play in the opening quarter to the time that Roney was taken out due to obtaining her second foul with 6:31 to play.
Her production in the opening half — which included a 5-of-8 shooting mark from the field — allowed Shawnee State to close within one, 16-15, after a Roney triple with 8:44 to go, and from there, the Bears and Saints tied or traded the point over five consecutive possessions.
While Thomas More took a 25-21 advantage with 6:28 to go in the opening half of competition, Shawnee State quickly changed the complexion of the opening half as Natalie Zuchowski scored inside to cut the lead to two, then a pair of steals from Bailey Cummins — which led to two consecutive Brandie Snow finishes in transition and a Hagen Schaefer three-pointer — allowed SSU to take a 35-27 lead heading into the locker room following a 14-2 run by the Bears.
SSU, who ultimately took a game-high 13-point lead (40-27 with 8:46 to play in the third quarter) off of a basket from Anyia Pride and an assist from Pride to Sydney King on the following possession, began to experience its own struggles as the Bears only connected on two field goals over a stretch of 6:59, allowing Thomas More to take the lead back, 45-44. A tip-in basket and two free throws from Snow, along with a basket inside from Anyia Pride, however, allowed Shawnee State to match all of the Saints’ advances in the third frame as the Bears worked the contest back even, 51-all, at the end of the third frame of action.
Both teams started the first 1:40 without scoring before Pride and Thomas More’s Zoie Barth matched each other with layups to keep the game knotted at 53 apiece. A missed layup and a turnover later in the quarter allowed the Saints to take a 59-55 lead, but a steal led to a free throw jumper from Pride while Roney, following a defensive rebound by Snow, scored on a short jumper from inside on her own to tie the game at 59 apiece. Roney then stole an entry pass and fed the ball off to Cummins, who used her patented floater to give Shawnee State a 61-59 lead with three minutes to play.
Barth, who posted 14 points in the contest, scored on the following possession with 2:27 to go, but Roney, thanks to Cummins’ and Snow’s awareness, got the ball up the floor quickly to Roney, who scored 10 seconds later to give SSU a 63-61 lead.
The Bears, who drew a pair of fouls, only went 2-of-4 from the free throw stripe and held a slim one-point lead following a turnover with 28 seconds left, but on Thomas More’s next-to-last offensive possession, Barth’s ensuing shot attempt to take the lead was blocked by Snow. Cummins hit a pair of free throws with four seconds left, forcing Thomas More’s Kaela Saner into a last-second trey that was not close to the rim.
In the victory, Pride’s 16 points and four rebounds on 7-of-14 shooting, along with Roney’s 15 points on the identical mark from the floor, led SSU while Snow’s 11 rebounds, 10 points and three steals and Cummins’ 14 points, eight assists, eight rebounds, and three steals proved to be critical all-around effort for the Bears.
With the win, Shawnee State ended a 112-game conference winning streak by Thomas More, and, in the process, won its first true road game of the year while moving to 4-1 on the season against opponents who are either ranked or receiving votes on the year.
For more information on SSU Bears Athletics, visit the Twitter or Facebook pages at www.twitter.com/SSUBears and www.facebook.com/SSUBears.