PORTSMOUTH —Entering Saturday afternoon’s contest against Campbellsville, the Shawnee State men’s basketball team had already enjoyed a winter break full of fruits.
The Bears defeated Lindsey Wilson (67-47) and Mount Vernon Nazarene (82-62) by 20 points each.
They took down the No. 11-ranked team in the NAIA in Cumberlands (Ky.) by an 80-72 margin on New Year’s Eve, then turned around to collect a 24-point victory over Thomas More (81-57) and a massive one-point victory over No. 6 Georgetown on E.J. Onu’s game-winner — all part of a seven-game winning streak.
However, sensing the opportunity to make program history, Shawnee State seized on the moment.
In a fast-paced 40-minute affair, the Bears put six players in double figures and after leading by just two (54-52) at halftime, outscored visiting Campbellsville by a 52-34 margin the rest of the way — collecting a 106-86 victory inside Waller Gymnasium.
The victory marked the eighth consecutive for the SSU men, setting a new program record for most wins in a row.
In accomplishing the feat, the Bears put on an offensive clinic, going a blistering 42-of-73 from the field en route to shooting 57.5-percent — while shooting an outstanding 14-of-29 from deep to post a 48.3-percent accuracy mark in that area.
Along with its offensive efficiency, Shawnee State (12-2, 8-1 MSC) not only continued its dominance on the glass — as evidenced by its massive 44-19 rebounding advantage (plus-25) — but did an outstanding job sharing the rock, as evidenced by the Bears’ 25 assists on their 42 makes from the floor.
The Tigers (6-6, 4-5 MSC) were held to 13 assists for the contest.
Needing a scoring lift to counter the outstanding efforts of Campbellsville’s Max Reyes (27 points, five assists) and Taiveyhon Mason (18 points, five assists), Issac Abergut and Miles Thomas stepped up in a major way.
The latter, who scored all 17 of his points in the first 20 minutes, proved to be a load for the Tigers’ defense to handle.
Thomas went a near-perfect 6-of-8 from the field in the opening half, and also notched a 5-of-6 mark from behind the line — posting the best offensive performance in his short five-game stretch so far at SSU.
As for Abergut, the junior from Melbourne, Australia matched Thomas’ output by going an outstanding 7-of-8 from the field and 3-of-4 from downtown to lead the Bears with 18 points and set a new career-high for himself.
The 6-7 wing — who is also capable of playing point guard at different stretches — went a perfect 4-of-4 from the field in the first half en route to an 11-point showing over the first 20-minutes of action.
Mitchell, Gilmore continue
providing excellent energy
Combining for 27 points and 11 rebounds, Latavious Mitchell and Amier Gilmore again proved to be relentless with their bulldog styles of play.
Mitchell, who came off of the bench for a career-high 14 points, also added six rebounds and a game-high four blocks in just under 15-and-a-half minutes of game time — proving to be dominant on the defensive end of the floor at different stretches.
Mitchell posted eight points, four rebounds and all four of his blocks in the second half alone.
Gilmore, meanwhile, continued to be an effective threat at all levels with his own tenacious style. ‘
The junior posted eight of his 13 points in the second half, added five rebounds and notched three assists to average 10.3 points, eight rebounds and three assists for the week.
His 13 points against Campbellsville also marks a career-high in an SSU uniform.
While the aforementioned quartet continued raising their own levels of play, James Jones and Onu continued to deliver in their own right.
Jones went 5-of-6 from the field in the second half and posted four assists to no turnovers over the final 20 minutes, notching a 10-point, four-assist half en route to a 14-point mark and a team-high seven assists for the contest.
As for Onu, the 6-11 senior came up big in the second half much like his senior counterpart.
Onu posted seven of his 12 points in the second half, going 2-of-3 from distance in the second half and 3-of-5 overall to help spread the floor.
In the 20-point win, Onu also became just the ninth player in Shawnee State history to exceed 1,250 points for a career, and with 1,252 total, is just four points behind SSU Hall of Famer Kirk Ruggles for eighth place on the all-time list.
Onu increased his career rebounding total to 727, which sits sixth in school history, and added another block to increase his school record count to 432.
continue on down lineup
Behind the six double-figure scorers, Shawnee State received excellent play from several bodies, with Donoven Carlisle posting a fantastic statline with seven points, eight rebounds and five assists to his credit on an efficient 3-of-4 from the field.
Jakiel Wells added in four steals, four points and three assists while shooting 2-of-3 from the floor, while Shawn Paris, Jr. was active as well, notching five points and five rebounds in just over eight minutes of action.
Bears keep ballin’,
records keep fallin’
With its 106-point output Saturday afternoon against Campbellsville, Shawnee State posted its highest-scoring output of the season and its eighth triple-digit outing as a unit since 2010.
However, it is the first time that the Bears have scored at or over 100 points against a Mid-South Conference foe since joining the conference prior to the 2010-11 academic year.
Along with the scoring effort, the victory allowed the Bears to match their best-ever start after 14 games in a single-season.
Only the 1988-89 team — the first year of the program’s existence as a four-year unit — held as good of a record as the 2020-21 unit currently does (12-2).
The Shawnee State men and women are scheduled to be back in action on Thursday and Saturday with road trips to Mid-South Conference newcomers Bethel and Freed-Hardeman in Tennessee.
Both doubleheaders start at 6:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. CT and 2:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. CT, respectively.
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