SSU crushes Phoenix, makes it 12 straight wins

PORTSMOUTH — In a season that continues to reach and exceed historical levels, the No. 7 Shawnee State men’s basketball team played a gem of a contest on Saturday evening against visiting Cumberland (Tenn.).

In avenging their only conference loss this season, and in part by holding the Phoenix to 27.5-percent shooting, the Bears put four players in double figures and posted 17 assists on 31 made baskets in an 82-54 victory at Waller Gymnasium.

The win, which ran Shawnee State’s win streak to 12 straight, proved to be one where the Bears dominated much of the proceedings.

Shawnee State (16-2, 12-1 MSC) led wire-to-wire for the second consecutive game, all while shooting a proficient 47.7-percent from the field and 34.5-percent from three-point range.

Jones, Onu, Gilmore, Thomas

showcase versatility

With each of their four double-figure scorers — James Jones, E.J. Onu, Amier Gilmore and Miles Thomas — the quartet showcased why the Bears have been such a difficult out throughout their dozen-game push.

Jones (15 points, seven rebounds, five assists)

Jones — who again led Shawnee State in scoring — struggled with his jump shot in the second half, but still continued to impact the game in many different aspects, leading the Bears with five assists and adding in seven rebounds to boot in a team-high 25 minutes.

Most importantly, however, Jones was tremendous on the defensive end.

The senior held Tavon King — Cumberland’s leading scorer on the year at 17.7 points per game on 45-percent shooting coming into Saturday’s contest — to just four tallies on 2-of-12 shooting.

Onu (13 points, five blocks, four rebounds — 454 blocks for career)

Onu, meanwhile, continued his offensive efficiency.

The senior notched his 13 points on just five shots from the floor, going 4-of-5 from the field and 4-of-6 from the free-throw line — while adding in five blocks and four rebounds.

In notching his five-block total, the senior exceeded the 450-career block mark.

Along with boosting his block total to an otherworldly number, Onu now has 1,330 career points and 754 career rebounds.

Onu passed SSU Hall of Famer Randall Pennington for seventh place all-time in career points, and passed Jay Hall to move into the program’s top-five all-time in career rebounds.

Gilmore (11 points, seven rebounds) and Thomas (11 points, 10 rebounds)

With their strong play again over a short stretch, Gilmore and Thomas continue to prove themselves as parts of larger pieces to a rock-solid puzzle.

Gilmore posted nine points and five rebounds in the first 20 minutes before obtaining a breather throughout much of the second half, while Thomas notched seven points and nine rebounds in the opening half — en route to posting his first career double-double as a Bear.

Their work defensively, along with Onu’s, also paid off.

Aaron Ridley, Tyler Byrd and Isaac Stephens scored 37 points between them, but had to take 36 shots as a group to get to that point total.

Balance continues

up and down roster

Following the double figure scorers, balance was all over the statsheet for Shawnee State.

Donoven Carlisle and Latavious Mitchell each came off the bench to supply eight points apiece — ultimately combining for 16 points, 12 rebounds and a 7-of-11 shooting mark from the field.

Issac Abergut notched eight points of his own, while going a respectable 2-of-6 from downtown.

He is second on the team behind Onu with 24 made three-point attempts.

Jakiel Wells continued not only his strong game on the floor (just one turnover in 21 minutes), but also his excellent on-ball defense— holding T.J. Stargell without a point and visibly frustrating Cumberland’s floor general.

Kobie Johnson and Tre Beard each knocked down a three-pointer, accounting for two of SSU’s 10 long-distance connections on Saturday evening.

Next Up

Shawnee State was set to take on Grace Christian at 7 p.m. in the Sean Elliott Classic on Monday evening, before hitting the road for a short Southern swing between conference foes Martin Methodist (Tenn.) and Life (Ga.).

Those game times are at 9 p.m. ET on Thursday (Jan. 28) and at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday (Jan. 30) respectively.

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