For No. 9 Shawnee State, Friday evening’s contest against Brescia wasn’t its best performance as a unit, but it was a win — and in 2020, wins are especially valued, considering the circumstances of the times presented.
Trailing by two (59-57) with less than seven-and-a-half minutes to play, Shawnee State used a 14-0 run to gain control for good at Waller Gymnasium, and ultimately built its lead to as much as 18 before settling for a 83-68 victory over the Owensboro, Ky.-based program to move to 6-0 on the year Friday evening.
The Bears, who struggled from the field (28-of-67, 41.8 percent) and the free throw line (14-of-24, 58.3 percent), overcame their own shooting woes by outscoring the Bearcats’ bench by a 37-14 margin. Shawnee State also owned a 20-8 margin in points off of turnovers en route to moving to 6-0 on the year.
“I thought that we were able to get a lot of players some minutes tonight coming off a road win,” Shawnee State head coach Jeff Nickel said. “We were able to get a ton of kids a lot of playing time. We just tried to get everybody involved as much as possible. Nat had a great first half. Abbie and Brandie had great fourth quarters. We’re really proud of those efforts. It’s really good getting everybody some needed experience heading into the start of conference play next week.”
Zuchowski posts strong first half performance
Taking advantage of her size mismatch in the post, Natalie Zuchowski went to work early and often. A bright spot in a first half that saw Shawnee State hold a slim advantage, Zuchowski posted 17 of her 19 points in the opening half of action to finish in double-figures for the fourth time in SSU’s six games this season.
While finishing in double-figures for the 15th time in her career, Zuchowski went 6-of-10 from the field and 7-of-10 from the free throw line to post a game-high, all while adding in six rebounds and four blocks as well. Many of Zuchowski’s first-half finishes came off of high-low feeds from Anyia Pride, who finished with 10 points, six rebounds, and three assists on her own accord.
“Our high-low game worked really well against their zone,” Nickel said. “We did a good job executing early.”
Snow, Kallner act as closers for SSU
With SSU trailing by a bucket, Brandie Snow and Abbie Kallner proved to be critical over the final seven minutes of the game. Kallner, who finished with a career-high 12 points in her second career start, hit two three-pointers in a three-possession span about a minute apart from one another to help turn the two-point deficit into a six-point lead.
Snow then followed with an and-one with 5:36 to go, the first trio of her seven points in the quarter en route to her own 12-point output. The junior, who now has 1,015 points for her career, also posted three rebounds and three assists while going 5-of-8 from the field.
Shawnee State’s women start its conference swing with a pair of games against Life (Ga.) and Martin Methodist (Tenn.). Life is out to a 2-0 start this season and has already seen Sydni Tears win Mid-South Conference Player of the Week honors once, while Martin Methodist, one of three newcomers to the MSC alongside fellow Tennessee schools Bethel and Freed-Hardeman, went 23-11 last season and made the NAIA Division I Tournament.
“We’re excited about those challenges and thrilled to start conference play in general,” Nickel said. “Everybody’s geared up a little earlier this year with the addition of teams. It starts for real next week. Life is very talented and has a lot of returners. They will be a tough out. Martin Methodist is a team that made the national tournament last year and is rearing to go having not played a game yet this year. We’re going to need to come prepared with good practices this week to be at our best against two good, well-respected programs.”
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