The men’s basketball program at Shawnee State, trailing at one point by a 33-29 margin, outscored Life by a 60-26 margin over the game’s final 22:06 to turn a tight two-possession Mid-South Conference matchup into a runaway, with the Bears scoring a 89-59 victory over the Running Eagles on Thursday evening in Marietta, Ga.
Shawnee State, who improved to 18-9 on the year and 7-6 in the Mid-South Conference, put five players in double-figures, outrebounded Life (10-15, 1-10 Mid-South) by a plus-19 rebounding margin (48-29), and held the Running Eagles to 31 percent shooting from the floor in a textbook performance. SSU also tallied 16 assists on 30 made field goals en route to shooting 49.2 percent from the floor, and only committed 12 turnovers while forcing Life into 14 miscues.
Up by a 14-10 margin with 13:38 to play in the opening half, Shawnee State lost the lead for a stretch of 10:27 as Life utilized a 10-2 run — capped by a four-point play from Jordan Hernandez — to collect a 20-16 advantage.
Despite trailing by a two-to-three possession margin throughout this juncture, Justin Johnson and Jakiel Wells proved to be huge. The former, a senior forward, scored 15 of his 17 points in the opening half on an array of low-post moves and smooth, in-rhythm takes while the latter continued to showcase an ever-improving skillset by scoring eight of his 10 points in the first half en route to keeping Shawnee State well within the point during the entire way.
Following another Hernandez trey, Shawnee State changed the complexion of the contest for good beginning at the 2:06 mark of the first stanza as EJ Onu answered with a trey of his own, then hit a pair of free throws with 1:44 to play in the first 20 minutes of action to give SSU a 34-33 advantage.
Dakota Prichard capped off the critical finish to the opening half for the Bears by canning a trey to put SSU ahead by a 37-33 margin with 56 seconds left — a margin that held to the end of the first 20-minute session.
In the second half, the Bears built on the strong 8-0 finish in the first half by showcasing excellent balance in the second half of competition. Shawnee State got three buckets from three different players in a 47-second span, while Kyree Elder — who was the third player to score in that span — ripped off 11 points in a row for the Bears. Elder’s 11-point run was part of a 14-point second half for the senior forward.
By the time Prichard followed Elder’s barrage with a three-pointer, along with a low-post basket from Selby Hind-Wills on back-to-back possessions, the Bears had utilized a 28-9 run over a 10-and-a-half-minute span to build a 57-42 advantage with 12:31 to play. Shawnee State never allowed Life to come within 12 points from the lead from that point onward en route to the win.
With the win, Shawnee State will turn its attention to its final road matchup in conference play — a Saturday bout at Cumberland — in Lebanon, Tenn. That contest will commence at 5 p.m. ET/4 p.m. CT.
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