The women’s basketball program at Shawnee State got a masterful 31-point, five-rebound from Bailey Cummins that also included the senior’s 600th career assist, as well as a combined 29-point, 16-rebound, five-block statline from Natalie Zuchowski and Carson Roney in a 72-64 victory over the Patriots on Saturday afternoon in a Mid-South Conference contest that was held in Williamsburg, Ky.
No. 7 SSU (19-3, 6-2 Mid-South) was tied with (RV) Cumberlands at a 13-all count, but the insertion of Zuchowski in the latter third of the opening quarter changed the complexion of the affair as the sophomore forward scored six points and blocked a pair of shots, which, along with Cummins’ red-hot 5-of-5 start from the field, allowed the Bears to take a 23-19 lead at the end of the opening quarter.
While the Patriots kept the pressure on SSU throughout the entirety of the second frame, Cummins countered by knocking down two critical treys at the 5:16 and 1:39 marks of the second quarter while Zuchowski added in four additional tallies in the frame to keep SSU in front.
Cummins, who scored 18 points in the opening half on 7-of-11 shooting, and Zuchowski, who added 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting, combined for 28 points and seven rebounds on 10-of-16 shooting and a 6-of-6 mark from the charity stripe. Their effectiveness defensively helped the Covane sisters and Veloso to just six first-half points combined, and as a result, SSU held a 39-34 halftime advantage following a buzzer-beating putback by Carson Roney.
A scoring drought of 3:50, along with a 21-point third-quarter outing from Cumberlands (16-5, 4-4 Mid-South) allowed the Patriots to rally back and take a 55-51 advantage at the end of the frame after a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Reagan Begole was ruled good.
However, Cummins and Roney turned the affair completely around in the final 10 minutes of play.
On the quarter’s opening possession, Zuchowski responded to quick offensive action by the Patriots by denying the subsequent shot by Silvia Veloso, resulting in a three-pointer by Cummins just 20 seconds later. This got the senior point guard off and running, as No. 34 ultimately scored each of Shawnee State’s first seven fourth-quarter points and 11 of their first 12 tallies to put the Bears up by a 63-60 margin with 5:42 to go.
Her 11 fourth-quarter points, along with four consecutive SSU points by Roney — who scored nine third-quarter points of her own — allowed Jeff Nickel’s group to take a 67-62 lead with 2:57 to play, kept the Bears on the point for good, with Zuchowski officially putting the game away with her low-post bucket off of a Roney pass with 33 seconds to go.
For the contest, Cummins finished with her 31 points on a 13-of-20 shooting mark from the floor while playing all 40 minutes in the contest. In addition to her five rebounds, her pair of assists put the senior at 601 dimes for her career, just 36 away from the school record of 637 set by Abby Feuchter.
Roney’s 16 points and eight rebounds, along with Zuchowski’s 13 points, eight rebounds, were also huge off of the bench. The pair also helped limited Cumberlands’ star trio of Vilma Covane, Carla Covane and Silvia Veloso to just 17 points combined in the victory and led SSU to a 44-35 rebounding advantage.
Shawnee State will hit the road to play Georgetown on Thursday, Jan. 30 at 6 p.m. before turning around to host Thomas More in a home bout on Saturday, Jan. 1 at 2 p.m. The latter contest will be sponsored by Cole Kirby Associates.
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