Bears rally to win at Cumberland


LEBANON, Tenn. —The Shawnee State University women’s basketball team overcame early shooting woes, and a 10-point second-quarter deficit (22-12), by making 22 of its final 42 shot attempts on Wednesday — with Carson Roney heading the charge.

It was Roney’s second 22-point outing in a row, and the No. 7-ranked Bears emerged with a 66-53 victory over host Cumberland (Tenn.) — as a return in a Mid-South Conference tilt in Lebanon, Tenn.

Shawnee State (9-1, 3-1 MSC), which started Wednesday evening’s conference affair with a 1-of-17 shooting mark from the floor, finished shooting 52.4 percent from the field over the game’s last 28:15 to take the win.

The Bears held Cumberland to 27.6-percent shooting, forced 20 turnovers, and came away with nine steals en route to outscoring the Phoenix (2-2, 1-2 MSC) 46-28 in the second half.

“Our kids did a great job of finding ways to get stops, get defensive rebounds, and get stops,” Shawnee State head coach Jeff Nickel said. “We had a lot of great looks, we just couldn’t get shots to fall. We really relied on our defense tonight, and did a great job executing on that end of the floor. In the third and fourth quarters, we played a lot sharper basketball from an overall standpoint. That wasn’t there on Monday. Our effort was there and we didn’t get down or negative on plays that didn’t go our way. I was extremely pleased with how we played from the jump in the second half.”

Roney goes at

Cumberland front line

Needing a major lift from a scoring standpoint, Roney proved to be huge throughout the contest — while continuing a personally strong week offensively.

Roney, who posted a 22-point effort against Pikeville on 10-of-16 shooting on Monday evening, scored six of Shawnee State’s first eight points in the second quarter — helping the Bears stay within striking distance.

She then gave the Bears a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, scoring eight third-quarter points, including six SSU points in a row over a 58-second span within the opening two minutes.

She added in seven more points in the final 10 minutes of action, helping SSU close the door on the Phoenix for good.

Along with matching Monday’s effort with another 22-point outing via 8-of-11 shooting, the senior forward from Waverly (and Eastern High School) also went 6-of-10 from the free-throw line — and added in six rebounds in the winning cause.

“Carson played really well for us and stepped up big,” Nickel said. “She was really efficient and played really good, smart basketball. She gave us a big lift tonight.”

Holland key in turnaround

Along with Roney’s effort, Marnae Holland proved to be critical for the Bears as well, especially during the second quarter.

Before Roney got into a strong rhythm in the third quarter, Holland — with SSU down 22-12 with 2:45 left to play in the opening half — came up large by supplying six consecutive Shawnee State points, all while also grabbing a team-high six rebounds in the first 20 minutes.

Included in that stretch was a critical bucket with five seconds to go off a putback, which allowed SSU — which shot just 6-of-31 by halftime — to trail by just five (25-20) at the break after the deficit hovered around eight to 10 points over the majority of the second quarter.

Holland’s and Roney’s efforts between the second and third quarters allowed Shawnee State to go on a 17-3 run during that span.

The junior guard finished with eight points and seven rebounds off the bench.

“Marnae did a great job of rebounding the ball and bringing energy,” Nickel said. “She’s been a sparkplug for us on quite a few occasions this season, the victory over Rio Grande being one of those games. She continues to play with an edge.”

Pride’s hustle shows throughout

Complimenting Roney’s efficiency on the offensive end was Anyia Pride, who attacked the basket in a relentless manner.

The 6-1 junior forward scored four of Shawnee State’s first five points, and despite only shooting 2-of-10 from the floor to start the game, remained active with her work on the glass — as her seven points and three rebounds in the opening half helped keep the Bears within reach.

Pride finished the final 20 minutes in a strong manner offensively, scoring 10 of her 17 points in the second half — all on just five second-half shots (4-of-5 from field).

The Cincinnati native matched Bethany Mackin with a team-best eight rebounds, while also posting two blocks on the defensive end of the floor.

“AP was really good. Her and Carson were very, very efficient and active. Both of them really put together strong basketball games and crashed the boards well, especially in the second half.”

Additional

Along with Mackin’s eight rebounds, Abbie Kallner’s four rebounds, four assists and two steals aided in the sophomore duo playing a game-high 34 minutes apiece, while Brandie Snow fought off shooting woes and foul trouble to notch a game-high five steals.

Natalie Zuchowski also scored four critical third-quarter points, helping SSU fend off a Cumberland (Tenn.) challenge — as the Bears maintained the lead through the game’s final 18:45.

With the win, No. 7 Shawnee State will face off against No. 8 Thomas More (7-0, 2-0 MSC) next Wednesday (Dec. 23) at Waller Gymnasium — in what is shaping up to be another classic matchup between two well-coached ballclubs loaded with talent.

“We’re all just trying to get through COVID the best that we can,” Nickel said. “It’s affected everybody in our conference in one way or another. We’re just going to continue to work day-to-day and get ready for Thomas More by preparing for them in the best way that we can.”

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 or for sponsorship of specific SSU players or events, visit https://givetossu.com/bear-club and https://givetossu.com/sponsorthebears.

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