GEORGETOWN, Ky. — Entering Thursday evening’s contest against No. 1 Georgetown, Shawnee State looked to not only become the first opponent to claim a victory over Georgetown during the 2019-20 season, but to become only the fifth team in the last nine seasons to knock off the Tigers on their home floor.
They just missed accomplishing both tasks.
Trailing by a 56-51 margin with 3:41 to play in regulation, Shawnee State rallied quickly with one key stop after another to tie the game at 56 apiece and send the No. 1-ranked unit in the nation to its first overtime session all year.
However, despite Kyree Elder’s 21 points and nine rebounds, along with E.J. Onu’s 16 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks, the Bears came up just shy as SSU fell by a 69-62 tally in overtime at Davis-Reid Alumni Gymnasium in Georgetown.
Shawnee State, which fell to 16-7 overall and 5-4 in Mid-South Conference action with the setback, blocked six shots as a team and held Georgetown to just 33.3-percent shooting.
However, the Bears had just six assists on 26 made field-goal attempts and turned the ball over 22 times — including 18 in the second half alone — in the loss.
During the opening half of competition, the Bears scorched their opposition behind the play of Elder and Onu, who were nothing short of sensational on the offensive end of the floor.
Over the contest’s first 20 minutes of action, the dynamic duo proved to be nearly unguardable — with the pair combining for 26 of Shawnee State’s first 30 points, as the Bears took as much as a 10-point lead (30-20) in the opening half of competition.
However, guys such as Tim Biakapia, who notched five points and five rebounds in the opening half, and Justin Johnson, who claimed the remaining four tallies, provided excellent hustle while Jakiel Wells, Desmond Crosby, Jr., Dakota Prichard and D’Andre Price added in sparks of their own during a first half where the Bears committed just six turnovers while forcing 10 Georgetown miscues.
Additionally, the Tigers only posted four assists as a unit, with Shawnee State’s smothering defense resulting in a 39-32 halftime advantage.
Shawnee State continued to hold its second-half advantage at 10, 49-39, after getting two crucial buckets from Johnson and a third from Biakapia to keep its advantage at that margin with 13:51 to go.
The complexion of the contest, however, changed when the Bears were held scoreless over a span of 6:34 — as Georgetown went on a crucial 12-0 run that made all the difference in the ballgame itself, with Rade Kukobat hitting two free throws at the 8:10 mark to give the Tigers the lead.
The Bears briefly took the lead back on an Elder bucket with 7:17 left, but Kukobat scored four of Georgetown’s next six points to give the Tigers a 56-51 lead heading into the final three-and-a-half minutes.
Shawnee State, however, rallied back into the fray.
With 2:50 left, Onu nailed a trey to respond to Kukobat’s point flurry, and the Bears, following several excellent hustle plays on both ends of the court, got another big bucket from their 6-11 big man.
Onu took a Biakapia miss, rose high, and slammed the ball through the hoop to cap a thrilling five-point spurt that helped send the game to overtime.
With both teams on their last legs, the Bears ran out of gas in the overtime session — as three turnovers over a four-and-a-half minute span, along with the Tigers scoring five of the overtime’s first seven points, led to Shawnee State’s defeat in the battle of wills.
For the contest, Elder and Onu combined for 37 points and 15 rebounds to head up the Bears’ output, while Biakapia (10 rebounds, seven points) and Johnson (eight points) were critical throughout the contest.
Kyran Jones (17 points, 10 rebounds, three steals) and Chris Coffey (18 rebounds, 13 points) led the Tigers, which moved to 20-0 on the year.
Shawnee State will return to action on Saturday afternoon when the Bears host Thomas More in a contest sponsored by Cole Kirby & Associates.
Game time commences at 4 p.m.
For more information on SSU Bears Athletics, visit www.ssubears.com or visit the Twitter and Facebook pages at https://twitter.com/SSUBears and https://www.facebook.com/SSUBears. For more information on how to join the SSU Bear Club, visit https://givetossu.com/bear-club.