The men’s basketball program at Shawnee State continued to boost its chances of a possible national tournament appearance as the Bears, after defeating Campbellsville by 86-57 and 73-71 (OT) margins in the regular season, didn’t let the third meeting with the Tigers become the charm.
SSU, behind a game-high 17 points and seven rebounds from senior forward Tim Biakapia along with double-figure scoring efforts from Justin Johnson, EJ Onu and Jakiel Wells, outscored Campbellsville 45-30 in the second half to turn a one-possession affair into a 86-69 runaway victory over the Tigers in the Mid-South Conference Quarterfinals Saturday afternoon in Bowling Green, Ky.
Historical significance of win
- With Shawnee State’s win in Saturday’s Mid-South Conference Quarterfinal over Campbellsville, it will be the first time since the 2014-15 season where Shawnee State has appeared in a conference semifinal stage since the 2002-2003 season. That year, prior to SSU’s 21-win barrage this season, was the last time that the Bears won at least 20 games in a single-season.
- Saturday’s win also officially ties Shawnee State for the second-best overall win total in school history, as the 2019-20 version of the Bears matched the inaugural 1988-89 Shawnee State unit with its 21st victory. A win over Georgetown ties this year’s group with the 2001-02 unit for the most wins in a single-season in school history.
Onu eclipses 1,000-points for SSU career
Needing 14 points to break the 1,000-point plateau for his Shawnee State men’s basketball career, EJ Onu dropped 15 tallies to go along with seven blocks and four assists to exceed the mark by one point, as a low post basket with 1:12 remaining put Onu over the 1,000-point barrier. Onu, a junior who has needed less than three years to break 1,000, joins seniors Kyree Elder, Tim Biakapia, and Justin Johnson — who scored over 1,000 points in multiple stops — in exceeding the mark.
Timmy B the catalyst
A player whose prowess gets overlooked due to Shawnee State’s depth as a unit, Tim Biakapia certainly was heard loud and clear in Saturday’s affair.
With Onu and Kyree Elder sidelined for different portions of the opening half due to early foul trouble, it was Biakapia who proved to be huge for SSU.
The senior wing hit each of his first three shot attempts, scored seven of his 11 points in a game-opening 11-0 run for SSU, and posted 11 points and four rebounds at the half to put Shawnee State ahead by a 41-39 count at the halftime break. His 17 points and seven rebounds for the affair led Shawnee State in both categories and marked the sixth time in the last eight affairs where Biakapia has scored in double-figures as the senior played the best basketball of his career.
Johnson, Wells deliver the goods
At one point, the duo combined to score 14 of Shawnee State’s 19 points over a stretch of 8:37 to keep Shawnee State in the contest, and in control, at all stops. Johnson went an efficient 9-of-10 from the foul line en route to his 13 points while Wells sprayed in 12 points and three steals on an efficient 5-of-9 shooting from the field. Wells and Johnson were two of five players who also posted at least two or more assists in the contest, which allowed Shawnee State to made 30 field goals off of 14 assists en route to a 56.6 percent shooting stroke from the field.
With the victory, No. 4 Shawnee State (21-10) will attempt to slay the dragon of the Mid-South Conference, No. 1 Georgetown (29-2), Sunday at 5:30 p.m. in the Mid-South Conference Semifinals in Bowling Green, Ky.
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