The men’s basketball program at Shawnee State put together a valiant attempt to come back from a 15-point first half deficit and a 14-point second half margin, but couldn’t compete the double-digit rally as the Bears fell to the Saints, 69-60, on Saturday evening at Waller Gymnasium in Portsmouth.
Shawnee State outrebounded Thomas More by a 39-29 margin (plus-10) in the contest, but were held to a 36.7 percent shooting mark and turned the ball over 16 times in the contest. The Saints, meanwhile, shot 42.9 percent from the field and only committed eight turnovers as a unit.
Down 23-8 with 11:26 to play in the opening half, Shawnee State’s bench production proved to be critical in the Bears’ 21-10 half-ending spurt. Dakota Prichard knocked down a three-pointer with 8:55 to help kickstart a spurt where five different players, including Prichard, D’Andre Price, Selby Hind-Wills, EJ Onu, and Jakiel Wells, scored during the stretch. Onu’s nine points and three rebounds, along with six points apiece from Hind-Wills and Wells, allowed Shawnee State to cut the 15-point deficit to four, 33-29, at the break.
Thomas More extended its lead back to a 14-point margin (47-33) with 13:50 to play, but at that juncture, Wells and Tim Biakapia rallied Shawnee State back into the fight by scoring 14 of SSU’s next 16 points to bring the Bears to within 56-49 with 5:04 left.
A 5-2 run put the Bears down by 10, 61-51, with 4:10 to go, but Shawnee State put the clamps down on Thomas More and responded by converting on the offensive end with Hind-Wills knocking down two free throws and scoring on a putback, and Biakapia flying in on a miss to put in a bucket that brought Shawnee State within 61-57 with 2:06 to play. However, the Bears couldn’t capitalize further despite holding TMU scoreless for a period of 3:08, and as a result, SSU couldn’t get any closer in their comeback quest.
Shawnee State was led by Biakapia’s 14 points and seven rebounds on 4-of-8 shooting, while Hind-Wills’ 12 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and two steals, Wells’ 12 points and five rebounds, and Onu’s 11 points, seven rebounds and four blocks rounded out the main contributors for SSU (16-8, 5-5 Mid-South Conference).
Thomas More (17-6, 5-5 MSC) was led by Reid Jolly’s 18 points, six steals and three rebounds and Ryan Batte’s 17 points.
The Bears will be back in action when SSU faces off against Campbellsville on Thursday evening at 8 p.m.
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