The No. 9-ranked women’s basketball program at Shawnee State reclaimed its place along the top perch of its Mid-South Conference brethren as the Bears, behind a dazzling 31-point, eight-rebound display from Bailey Cummins and a 22-point, six-assist showing from Brandie Snow, was able to obtain a 81-72 victory to take its fifth MSC Tournament Championship in six seasons.
In its Mid-South Conference Tournament victory, Shawnee State moved to 29-4 overall on the year. The Bears overcame a difficult first half, where the Bears trailed by as many as nine (29-20) with 6:39 in the opening half of competition, by shooting 29-of-63 from the field (46 percent), going 8-of-16 from three-point range, and shooting 15-of-19 from the free throw stripe in the thrilling affair.
Snow starts game with flurry
Needing offensive production with the majority of the unit struggling, Brandie Snow carried the Bears in the opening quarter.
During the frame, Snow posted 13 points, went 4-for-4 from the floor, and added in a 4-for-4 mark from the free throw stripe to carry the Bears in the opening quarter of action. While her first half total remained at 13 points, Snow added in four assists and three rebounds to help get SSU off and running in the contest. The sophomore finished the tournament with averages of 24 points, eight rebounds, and four assists en route to being named the Mid-South Conference Tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Cummins explodes in the second
With SSU down by its largest margin of the second half (29-20), senior point guard Bailey Cummins turned the heat up and began bombing away.
The senior point guard, with the game threatening to get away from the Bears, responded with 14 straight Shawnee State points — and four three-pointers from well beyond the line — to post 18 of her 31 tallies in the first half on an incredible 7-of-8 shooting from the floor. Cummins matched Snow with a game-high four rebounds and added in a pair of dimes in the opening half.
King comes alive late
Held without a point in just over eight minutes of playing time in the first half, senior forward Sydney King battled through her final Mid-South Conference Tournament Championship Game with resiliency.
After sitting down to obtain a breather, King, reinserted with the score tied at 56 late in the third quarter of play, took a feed from Cummins and drilled a trey at the third-quarter horn to put Shawnee State up by a 59-56 margin heading into the fourth and final quarter. It was part of a 10-point, seven-rebound second half where the senior delivered on several occasions offensively.
All Bears from deep!
While Thomas More has proven to be a proficient three-point shooting unit, as proven by its seventh-place national ranking in three-point field goal percentage (36.6), Shawnee State stymied the Saints in that area.
For the contest, TMU went 8-of-28 from three-point range to shoot just 28.6 percent from the field from distance. Shawnee State got seven of their eight three-point bombs from Cummins and Snow as SSU pulled off the heroic effort.
Nickel and Diming!
In addition to winning the Mid-South Conference Tournament Championship, Shawnee State head coach Jeff Nickel won his 195th contest as the head coach of the Bears.
Nickel, who is now 195-51 in his seventh season overall, can lead SSU to its fourth 30-win season in five years with just one victory at the NAIA Division I National Tournament. The women can give Nickel his 200th career head coaching victory by advancing all the way to, and winning, the NAIA Division I National Championship.
The South Shore, Ky. native, for his career, is now a stellar 18-2 at the Mid-South Conference Tournament’s biggest stage.
Shawnee State will await its NAIA Division I National Tournament seed Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. ET.
For more information on SSU Bears Athletics, visit www.ssubears.com or visit the Twitter and Facebook pages at https://twitter.com/SSUBears and https://www.facebook.com/SSUBears. For more information on how to join the SSU Bear Club, visit https://givetossu.com/bear-club.