PULASKI, Tenn. — Grinding out victories isn’t easy.
However, victories done in that method — especially in the gauntlet that is the Mid-South Conference — are rewarding, especially when done on the road.
Down by a six-point deficit (35-29) with 9:02 to play in the third quarter, No. 12 Shawnee State went on a 16-0 third-quarter run over a span of 5:46 to take a 45-35 advantage, then after upping that lead to as much as 12 (58-46) in the fourth quarter, held on for a 66-62 road victory over Martin Methodist on Thursday evening in Pulaski, Tenn.
In the win, Shawnee State used proficient shooting, a strong second-half defensive effort and the outstanding low-post play of Anyia Pride and Carson Roney to work its way back from a three-point halftime deficit (32-29) and the 35-29 third-quarter margin.
The Bears shot 47.6-percent in the opening half and 45.2-percent in the second frame en route to going 24-of-52 from the field (46.2 percent) for the 40-minute affair, all while holding Martin Methodist to 34.2-percent shooting in the second half and a 38.7-percent mark (24-of-62) for the entire contest.
With Pride and Roney, Shawnee State asserted its will inside — winning the rebounding margin by a plus-seven count (38-31).
The starting duo ultimately combined for 39 points and 21 rebounds in the four-point victory.
“Our posts did a really good job,” SSU women’s coach Jeff Nickel said. “Everybody did an outstanding job of taking advantage of their opportunities and finishing inside. I thought that we did a great job on the offensive glass and controlling the rebounding battle in general.”
Pride posts 4th double-double
Continuing to get better with each passing week, Pride showcased a relentless motor on Thursday evening.
Posting a well-balanced output, Pride matched Shawnee State’s team-best with 10 points in the opening half, keeping the Bears around.
In the second half, Pride stepped it up even further.
Needing every bit of her effort to come away with the win, Pride delivered, notching 11 points and 10 rebounds in the second half alone.
The junior from Cincinnati finished with 21 points, 14 rebounds and three steals on 9-of-15 shooting, leading the Bears in each of the aforementioned categories.
“AP’s really improved her rebounding as well as her overall scoring ability,” Nickel said. “She’s really getting comfortable with her offensive game, and I think that she’s doing an outstanding job of rebounding the basketball. Her ability in the rebounding department has been arguably the biggest improvement in her game since the beginning of the season.”
Roney matches Pride
Alongside Pride, Roney proved to be more than effective herself, allowing the Bears to get an effective tag-team effort from the duo.
Roney, who matched Pride with 10 first-half points, finished with 18 points and seven rebounds in the win while shooting a strong 8-of-10 from the field.
Her offensive low-post positioning, along with Pride’s intensity, proved to be difficult for Martin Methodist to stop.
“I was really impressed with Carson and her play,” Nickel said. “She did a really good job again of rebounding the basketball, but also just being efficient. Anytime you get 18 points on 10 shots, you’re being extremely efficient with your offensive play.”
Key 16-0 spurt
As it has done throughout different contests this season, Shawnee State’s play from the 9:11 mark of the third quarter to the 3:25 mark of the same frame proved to be critical.
During that stretch, the Bears (15-3, 9-3 MSC) held Martin Methodist (3-8, 2-8 MSC) to an 0-of-7 mark from the field and forced four turnovers.
Marnae Holland, who led the Bears off the pine with eight points, scored six of her eight during the 16-0 run — while Pride added in four points.
“We fed off of our defense,” Nickel said. “We did a great job in transition, we were able to get some stops, and we were able to get into our gameplan. I was really happy with our energy coming out of the locker room. We did an outstanding job of being ready.”
No. 12 Shawnee State (15-3, 9-3 MSC) has another big road contest ahead of it on Saturday — with a matchup against No. 16 Lindsey Wilson (13-3, 8-3 MSC).
The Bears, which defeated the Blue Raiders by a 77-58 count on Jan. 21, will be looking for their second victory in nine days over Lindsey Wilson — as well as the regular season sweep.
“It’s a huge game for us on Saturday,” Nickel said. “It’s going to be a championship-caliber contest. Lindsey Wilson is an extremely good program and a extremely good team. John (Wethington) does an outstanding job. They are going to be prepared. We’re going to be prepared for that contest Saturday. It’s going to be a battle.”
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