SSU men fall to Patriots

The men’s basketball program at Shawnee State held No. 15-ranked Cumberlands (Ky.) to just 28.6-percent shooting from the field and forced 13 Patriot turnovers, but couldn’t claim victory on Thursday evening at Waller Gymnasium — as SSU fell to UC by a 63-59 margin in a Mid-South Conference contest.

Shawnee State, which was held to 34.4-percent shooting, only had six assists on its 22 made baskets while Cumberlands, by contrast, had eight assists on 18 made shots.

The Bears were also outrebounded by a 45-42 margin and went 10-of-15 from the charity stripe compared to the Patriots’ 20-of-26 margin at the line.

SSU — which roared out to an impressive 8-3 start — got buckets from E.J. Onu, Desmond Crosby Jr., Tim Biakapia and Kyree Elder over the game’s first two-and-a-half minutes of action.

A seesaw battle, however, quickly ensued after that — as 10 ties or lead changes ensued throughout the following 17:30 of play.

Shawnee State trailed by as much as six points (25-19) with 7:57 to play in the opening half, but Elder scored six of his eight first-half points to tie the score at 28-28, while Dakota Prichard nailed a trey to put the Bears ahead by a three-point margin following a 12-3 run by Shawnee State.

The Bears, however, went scoreless over the final 3:54 — as four turnovers allowed Cumberlands to come back with a 4-0 run and take a 32-31 advantage at the halftime break.

In the second half of competition, Shawnee State, which trailed by a 34-31 margin with 19:54 to play, went on a 5-0 run as Onu collected all five of the Bears’ points.

Up 38-36 with 15:52 to play, Cumberlands took the lead back on a 5-0 run that gave the Patriots a 41-38 cushion, but Elder — once again — took it upon himself to take charge.

The senior forward scored 13 of his game-high 21 points in the second half, with his highlights including an and-one that drew Shawnee State back to within 41-40 and his eight consecutive SSU points that allowed the Bears to rally from a 52-47 deficit to a 55-54 lead with 4:20 remaining.

However, following that run, Shawnee State went cold the rest of the way.

Over the remaining 4:20, the Bears were only able to connect on one field goal over that time frame — as Cumberlands was able to take the lead one final time, and keep the point over the remaining distance en route to the win.

Elder — who fouled out with 1:39 to go — led the way with 21 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Onu posted 10 points and five rebounds to head up the SSU attack.

Crosby, Jr.’s eight points, three rebounds and three assists; Selby Hind-Wills’ 11 rebounds and six points; and Justin Johnson’s seven points and seven rebounds rounded out the main contributors for the Bears.

With the defeat, (RV) Shawnee State will turn its attention to its final Mid-South Conference and regular-season contest against Pikeville, which will be held at Waller Gymnasium.

The contest, which starts at 4 p.m., will also serve as Senior Day for both the women’s and men’s basketball programs.

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