PORTSMOUTH — Balanced team play is a key to emerging victorious in any contest.
While the No. 9-ranked Shawnee State women’s basketball team didn’t put together its best shooting performance from the field, the Bears kept the Life (Ga.) Running Eagles off-balance for the majority of the Mid-South Conference opener for both programs.
The end result was a 76-48 SSU home victory over Life on Thursday evening at Waller Gymnasium in Portsmouth.
Shawnee State, which shot just 26-of-76 from the field, overcame that 34.2-percent shooting mark by holding Life to a paltry 18-of-61 from the field (29.5-percent) over 40 minutes.
The Bears also owned the glass, posting a massive 53-38 rebounding advantage (plus-15) as four players posted at least eight or more rebounds in the contest.
“Our kids did a good job defensively,” SSU coach Jeff Nickel said. “We played really well together, especially on that end of the floor. I was happy with how we got after it, and with how we played, we were able to utilize our depth effectively and maximize our efforts on both ends.”
Pride, Snow post double-doubles in win
Using their intense efforts throughout, Shawnee State’s Anyia Pride and Brandie Snow each posted critical double-double performances in the conference-opening victory while showcasing their two-way skills.
Snow, who scored nine of her 14 points in the first half, gutted out a 4-of-17 shooting performance by going 4-of-4 from the free-throw line.
The junior from Hartville added in 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals in just under 32 minutes of playing time.
As for Pride, the 6-1 junior from Cincinnati overcame a first-half shoulder injury to post a gutty second-half performance, as 11 of her 16 points came in the final 20 minutes of action.
Pride also added in a team-high 11 boards to go along with two steals and a block while shooting 6-of-13 from the floor.
Zuchowski continues efficient offensive output
Continuing to build on a promising start to the 2020-21 campaign from an offensive standpoint, Natalie Zuchowski again posted a big performance by scoring 13 of her 16 points in the second half to match Pride for the team-high in points.
Zuchowski, who went 5-of-9 from the field and 6-of-10 from the charity stripe, added in eight rebounds and two blocks in 25 minutes of playing time off of the bench.
“Our post players (Pride, Zuchowski, Carson Roney) played really well,” Nickel said. “We were able to get the ball inside and really establish ourselves there. We really got out in transition and finished well in that area, which was key especially in the third quarter, and helped us extend the gap when Life cut it down to 12 midway through the quarter.”
Kallner posts efficient floor game
In the third start of her collegiate career, Abbie Kallner may have not shot the ball well.
However, the sophomore from nearby Wheelersburg checked off all the additional necessary boxes — and for a point guard, commanding the game is vitally important.
While playing a team-high 34 minutes and 57 seconds, Kallner stole two passes, grabbed five rebounds, scored five points and most importantly posted a strong seven-assist performance while committing just one turnover.
Her progress during the 2020-21 season has been solid, especially considering she missed preseason time due to injury.
Her on-ball defensive pressure, along with that of fellow sophomore Bethany Mackin, was critical in wearing down Life — which was held to 31 points below its season average coming into Thursday’s matchup.
“Abbie did a great job for a young point guard, handling pressure and getting us into our offense,” Nickel said. “She made sound decisions with the basketball, whether Life went man or zone from a defensive standpoint. She wasn’t able to get her shots to fall, but the old adage is that there are other aspects to the game beside shooting, and Abbie proved that tonight. Not shooting well from the floor would affect most players in a negative way, but Abbie isn’t most players.”
With the victory, Shawnee State (7-0, 1-0 MSC) is scheduled to face Martin Methodist at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon in Waller Gymnasium.
“We’re going to have to have a short term memory, and be prepared,” Nickel said. “There are no days off in this conference. Martin Methodist is the epitome of that. They won 24 games and earned a NAIA National Tournament berth last year. It’s going to be a challenge that we’ll have to rise up and meet Saturday afternoon.
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