In their final regular season contests prior to postseason competition, Shawnee State will honor the efforts of 15 seniors, including eight from the men’s and women’s basketball programs, on Saturday afternoon as the women and men will play host to Pikeville at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively, inside the Waller Gymnasium confines beginning Saturday afternoon.
In the contest, the women will be looking to avenge a 67-62 loss to Pikeville on Jan. 16, while the men will attempt to claim their first 20-win season in 17 years in the affair. The seniors on the men’s and women’s basketball side, along with the bowling program and the cheerleading squad seniors, will also be honored.
A complete breakdown of both contests are below:
No. 9 SSU women (25-4, 12-3 MSC) vs. Pikeville (16-13, 6-9 MSC) notes:
- Beyond just avenging their loss to UPike, the Shawnee State women will look to exceed last season’s win total in Saturday’s game. Jeff Nickel will be looking for career win No. 192 in the contest.
- Pikeville’s notable victories, in addition to its 67-62 win over SSU, includes a 69-62 win over No. 22 Thomas More on Jan. 6 and a 72-66 victory over (RV) Cumberlands, Ky. on Feb. 22. All three wins were obtained at Appalachian Wireless Arena.
- UPike is putting 6-1 junior center Brianna Burbridge (10 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 58.9 percent shooting) in double-figures. 5-9 senior guard Kayla Mullins (9.7 points) and 5-9 sophomore guard Sierra Feltner (9.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists) are also close to that mark.
- Clifton Williams (71-53) is in his fourth season at Pikeville.
(RV) SSU men (19-10, 8-7 MSC) vs. Pikeville (20-9, 6-9 MSC) notes:
- In their previous meeting at Pikeville, Shawnee State defeated UPike, 68-57, on Jan. 16 in Pikeville. It is one of only three losses that UPike has suffered at home all season and was part of a stretch where the Bears won eight of 10 games from Dec. 7 to Jan. 16.
- Pikeville’s notable victories include a 68-64 win over now-No. 18 Thomas More (68-64) on Jan. 6 and a 95-64 victory over Lindsey Wilson on Feb. 6.
- UPike is putting three players in double-figures:
- 6-3 redshirt junior guard Jordan Perry (17 points, four rebounds, 2.2 assists, 49 percent shooting, 39.1 percent three-point shooting)
- 6-8 forward Luke Layhew (12.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, 65.6 percent shooting)
- 6-6 forward Xavier Gaona (10.6 points, 4.2 rebounds)
- Kelly Wells (332-120 at Pikeville) is in his 14th and final season as the head coach at UPike. Wells will retire following the season to focus on his duties as the athletic director at UPike, a decision that was announced on Jan. 28. Associate head coach Tigh Compton will move up a seat to the top chair in a decision that was announced two days ago.
Keys for SSU men
- No slow starts. While SSU did defeat Pikeville by 11 on its home floor, Shawnee State was down by a 16-4 margin in the contest to start the game. Limiting damage early on, and preventing such a run from occurring again, is a must.
- Hitting free throws. Shawnee State was outstanding at the free throw line in the first meeting against Pikeville as SSU went a highly proficient 19-of-23 (82.6 percent) from the charity stripe — 12 percent above its season mark of 70. In a tight game, knocking down critical free throws late could be the difference for SSU if it hopes to pull out the win at home.
- Limit turnovers. Shawnee State had twice as many turnovers as Pikeville did (18 to nine) but still won by the aforementioned 11-point margin. Not throwing possessions away only tilts the contest more in favor of SSU.
Keys for SSU women
- Rebound the basketball. Shawnee State was without Bethany Mackin due to injury and lost Sydney King after the first quarter for the same reason, but at the end of the day, UPike still held a plus-six rebounding advantage on the glass (46-40). Team rebounding — which is a quality that Shawnee State has performed well in all year long — will have to be an emphasis.
- Limit turnovers. SSU had 13 assists on its 22 made field goals, but also committed 19 turnovers in the five-point loss. If Shawnee State limits the turnovers to just 16 or 17, the decision is arguably the other way around.
- Contest shots in strong manner. Pikeville shot just 32.6 percent from the field in Shawnee State’s five-point loss during the first meeting. Pairing the strong initial effort along with boxing out effectively, including not allowing Pikeville to obtain 22 offensive rebounds, will bode well for SSU’s chances.
The contests will be televised at https:portal.stretchinternet.com/shawneest/.
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