SSU women lose lead, game at Bethel

McKENZIE, Tenn. — The Shawnee State women’s basketball team held a nine-point (35-26) halftime lead over Bethel, but couldn’t keep the host Wildcats back from a 46-point second half.

The Wildcats, with a 51.5-percent second-half shooting stroke, proved to be too much in the Bears’ 72-68 setback on Thursday evening inside Bethel’s Crisp Arena.

Shawnee State, which fell to 11-3 overall and 5-3 in Mid-South Conference play, also allowed Bethel (9-7, 4-5 MSC) to shoot 47.1-percent from three-point range in the second half — with the Wildcats shooting 17-of-33 from the floor and 8-of-17 from distance.

Despite the four-point loss, Shawnee State’s balance proved to be strong once again.

The Bears, which put six players in the scoring column after the opening quarter and eight by halftime, took an 18-13 advantage following the first period and extended their lead to 10 points on two separate occasions during the second quarter (23-13 and 35-25) — before settling for the 35-26 halftime lead.

Brandie Snow’s nine points and nine rebounds — along with Marnae Holland’s eight tallies — led SSU over the first 20 minutes while the Bears did outstanding work defensively, holding Bethel to just 28.6-percent shooting from the floor and a puny 16.7-percent shooting mark from deep.

However, in the second half, Mickey Head, Ever Walker and Millie Bryant were able to break out.

That trio, which combined for just 11 points between them in the first half, each scored double figures on their own in the second half — as all three players got red-hot from behind the three-point line, converting seven of Bethel’s eight three-point makes.

Head and Walker (14 points each in second half) and Bryant (11 points) accounted for each of Bethel’s eight makes from distance, ultimately giving the Wildcats a one-point (48-47) lead.

Natalie Zuchowski, however, scored five of her 10 points on back-to-back possessions to give SSU a 52-49 lead after three quarters via two low-post conversions, including an and-one finish late in the frame.

Shawnee State opened its lead up to six points on two separate occasions, but after taking a 56-50 advantage, allowed three straight three-point makes by Bryant, Walker and Ashton Hulme — as Bethel reclaimed a 59-58 lead.

The two teams traded the lead back and forth three more times, but Bryant made one final trey with 1:12 remaining that broke a 67-all tie — and gave the Wildcats the lead for good.

Snow led Shawnee State’s effort with 18 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, while Holland (15 points and four rebounds) and Zuchowski (10 points and four rebounds) joined Snow in double figures.

Head’s 19 points and 10 rebounds, Walker’s 18 points and five assists, and Bryant’s 13 points and five rebounds led Bethel’s output.

The Bears will look to get back in the win column on Saturday afternoon, when Shawnee State takes on Freed-Hardeman in Henderson, Tenn.

Game time is set for 2:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. CT.

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