PULASKI, Tenn. —In the game of basketball, floor spacing and sharing the rock are critical to finding the open man.
Of the many qualities that the No. 6 Shawnee State men’s basketball team performs well in, the above pair of mentioned traits are arguably two of SSU’s best.
Thursday evening’s road contest was further evidence of that point, as DeLano Thomas’ club notched 27 assists on 43 made field goals and put seven players in double figures —while reaching triple digits for the second consecutive game and for the third time this season.
The result was a 108-86 road victory over Mid-South Conference foe Martin Methodist in Pulaski, Tenn.
Shawnee State, which posted its third consecutive wire-to-wire MSC victory in the process, ran its winning streak to 14 consecutive — taking an early 18-8 advantage, shooting 56-percent in the opening half en route to an 11-point halftime lead (48-37), and ballooning the lead to as much as 24 in the second half before settling on the 22-point triumph.
The 108 points scored by Shawnee State (18-2, 13-1 MSC) allowed the Bears to become the first team inside the program since the 2001-02 version to score at least 100 or more points in consecutive games.
That’s good company — considering that the ‘01-02 team, to date, holds the school’s best record, in terms of winning percentage, for a single season.
continuing to pay off
Shawnee State’s fanbase has seen more than its fair share of balanced scoring in terms of the statlines during the first 20 games of the 2020-21 season.
However, Thursday’s performance, even by this season’s lofty standards, was tremendous.
In all, 10 different guys scored for the Bears against the RedHawks (11-7, 7-7 MSC), once ranked as high as No. 16 in the NAIA Poll themselves.
Of the 10 guys to reach the scoring column, seven of those 10 scored in double figures.
While E.J. Onu and Miles Thomas, who scored 15 points each, weren’t surprising to see at the top of the scoring list, along with Amier Gilmore’s 12 points and six assists and Issac Abergut’s 11 points and five rebounds, their unselfishness — along with that of the entire team — allowed for others to eat.
Just three days after posting a career-high point total, Shawn Paris Jr. had an outstanding shooting performance — going 6-of-11 from the field and 2-of-5 from long range en route to setting a new career high with 14 markers.
Paris Jr. also added four rebounds.
Behind him, Kobie Johnson put together one of the best performances of his own career.
The senior guard scored 14 points on just six shots from the floor, en route to reaching double figures for the third time in the 2020-21 season.
His 14 points are a season-high.
As for Latavious Mitchell, the 6-8 big man continues to prove himself as a gem.
He scored his 14 points on a perfect 7-of-7 from the floor while blocking a pair of shots — all while matching his own career-high on the best efficiency in his 12th game with the program.
Markus Geldenhuys, a reserve 6-5 big, got action late and also posted a season-high — while providing a highlight reel in the process.
Fouled with just over a minute to play from beyond the three-point line, Geldenhuys made his three-point attempt while being fouled to cap off a night where SSU could seemingly do no wrong.
The junior notched five points on a perfect 2-of-2 shooting.
Bears rack up dimes
The above efforts were due, in large part, to unselfish team play.
In all, four players — including Gilmore, Onu, Jakiel Wells and Tre Beard — racked up 19 assists while turning the ball over just seven times between them — posting a strong 3.33-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in the process.
Wells, in particular, was outstanding — as evidenced by his five assists, three steals and three rebounds.
He and Beard combined for eight rebounds alone, with Beard matching Onu and Abergut for the team-high in boards.
Shawnee State will continue its journey southward on Saturday — as the Bears take on Life (Ga.) in an attempt to run their winning streak to 15 straight.
Game time against the Running Eagles is set for 4 p.m. in Marietta, Ga.
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