No. 9 Bears roll to 92-75 victory over Phoenix

PORTSMOUTH — The No. 9 Shawnee State women’s basketball team wasted no time getting everybody involved in the act in a 17-point victory over visiting Cumberland.

In shooting 50.8-percent from the field, and 55-percent from three-point range while notching an outstanding 23 assists on their 32 made field goals, the Bears rolled to a 92-75 victory over the Phoenix on Saturday afternoon in Waller Gymnasium.

Shawnee State (14-3, 8-3 MSC) put nine different players in the scoring column in its third consecutive conference victory, with the Bears shooting 56.3-percent after halftime from the field — and 61.3-percent from three-point range.

The Bears also owned the glass, collecting a plus-19 rebounding advantage (44-25) — and allowing only one opposing player to grab more than four rebounds individually.

“I was really proud of how we moved and shared the basketball,” Shawnee State head coach Jeff Nickel said, following the win. “We were very unselfish in our team play, which was outstanding.”

Bombs Away, Betty!

Known for her outstanding defense and hustle, Bethany Mackin made Cumberland pay in a different form throughout the second half in Saturday’s affair.

The sophomore from Martinsville, Ind., playing against her former high school teammate against Gracie Johnson, scored 18 of her 23 tallies in the second half — due to her exquisite long-range bombing.

The 5-9 off-guard went a perfect 6-of-6 from three-point range — hitting five of of her six attempts in a span of 3:47 during the middle of the third quarter.

Her pinpoint accuracy from deep allowed Shawnee State to go on a critical 21-7 run — which increased SSU’s lead from a 45-36 margin with 8:33 left in the third frame to a 63-43 count with 4:46 to play in the same quarter.

In addition to her game-high 23 points, Mackin also put together three rebounds and supplied a pair of steals in the contest.

Holland keeps packing punch from pine

Continuing to thrive as a sparkplug off of the bench, Marnae Holland was critical for Shawnee State throughout.

Subbing in early on due to foul trouble, Holland notched 14 points and four rebounds in the opening half to lead the Bears.

She ultimately finished with a 20-point, seven-rebound line, going 6-of-14 from the floor and a team-best 7-of-10 from the charity stripe.

“I was really proud of both Bethany and Marnae,” Nickel said. “They both played gritty, tough basketball while staying on the attack. Bethany found a great rhythm there in the third quarter and was able to knock down some shots that were huge for us in breaking the game open, while Marnae was critical when we hit early foul trouble in the second quarter. She not only keeps us from getting in foul trouble, but was huge for us in keeping the lead, which in turn, helped us during the second half as well.”

Bears set aggressive tone

Along with their rebounding exploits, Shawnee State also showcased its aggressive style — both in securing the ball off the board as well as in its free-throw shooting.

In all, the Bears went 17-of-26 from the charity stripe, while the Phoenix (2-9, 1-9 MSC) went just 8-of-14 from the same area.

“We were able to get to the free throw line and finish off offensive possessions,” Nickel said. “Then defensively, and on the offensive glass, as well, we did an outstanding job of limiting second-chance opportunities while giving ourselves multiple chances to score in a single possession.

Behind Mackin and Holland, Carson Roney added 10 rebounds, Anyia Pride added 10 of her 14 points in the second half, and Natalie Zuchowski added in eight points and five rebounds down low.

Brandie Snow scored nine of her 12 points while posting a four-assist outing in the victory, while lead guards Abbie Kallner and Kam Elzy combined for a dozen assists in the Bears’ eighth conference win.

Next Up

Shawnee State is scheduled to play Martin Methodist on Thursday evening at 5:30 p.m. in Pulaski, Tenn.

The RedHawks, which fell to Pikeville by a 84-77 count on Saturday evening in Pikeville, fell to SSU by a 74-50 margin earlier in the season in Portsmouth.

However, Martin Methodist is a perfect 8-0 at home.

“It doesn’t get any easier in the Mid-South Conference,” Nickel said. “We’ve got a long road trip ahead of us against Martin Methodist, which is going to be a tough challenge for us.”

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