WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. — The No. 6-ranked Shawnee State men’s basketball team continued to find ways to get the job done — overcoming a seven-point first-half deficit, a blistering 49-percent field-goal percentage by Cumberlands (Ky.) and a 40.7-percent three-point field-goal percentage by the Patriots by claiming a plus-nine rebounding advantage (41-32), turning the ball over just nine times, and notching 15 assists on 32 made baskets in an 85-78 victory on Saturday evening in Williamsburg, Ky.
In claiming its 17th victory in a row, Shawnee State (21-2, 16-1 MSC) matched last year’s 2019-20 squad, the 1993-94 unit, and the 1988-89 squad — the first year of the program’s inception — for the second-most victories in program history.
This year’s version of the Bears accomplished the feat in eight games less apiece than the 2019-20 and 1988-89 teams, and 10 games less than the 1993-94 version.
As a unit, Shawnee State also shot well from the floor, using its solid passing to collect a 45.7-percent overall mark and a 43-percent three-point stroke for the contest.
The Bears also did solid work with their on-ball pressure, forcing Cumberlands (15-8, 9-8 MSC) into more turnovers (13) than assists (12).
Jones continues strong tear
Engaged in yet another strong battle with Cumberlands’ Tevin Olison, James Jones used another strong tear to get the better of Olison on the scoreboard for the second time during the 2020-21 campaign.
Despite Olison’s strong performance as indicated by the Memphis, Tenn. native’s game-high 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting, Jones was absolutely vital himself in keeping the Bears’ foot on the throttle in the opening half.
The 6-4 senior, in fact, scored nine of the Bears’ first 14 points en route to starting the game 4-of-5 from the field — and finished the first 20 minutes with 15 points.
Jones finished the contest with 22 points and five rebounds in all.
Mitchell, Thomas come up
big in first half run
Down by a 31-24 count and needing to make a push with a four-possession deficit in front of them, Shawnee State got a big lift from Miles Thomas and Latavious Mitchell.
The pair, in fact, provided some of the most-needed production in the fight between the two strong programs as the Bears, down by that 31-24 margin with 4:26 to play in the opening half, went on a 15-7 spurt to close out the second quarter — as Mitchell and Thomas combined for 13 points during the run.
Thomas, despite not having his strongest shooting performance, finished the evening with an excellent floor game — notching 10 points, matching team-highs of seven rebounds and four assists, and grabbing a pair of steals all in 31 minutes off the bench.
Meanwhile, Mitchell added in eight points, four rebounds and two assists in 11 minutes off the pine.
Onu posts big second half,
Johnson catches flamethrower late
Having just three points and three rebounds at halftime, E.J. Onu posted a big second half to help guide the Bears to victory.
Just 1-of-4 from the floor at the half, Onu finished the final 20 minutes in a strong manner, going 5-of-7 en route to a 13-point second frame.
Onu ultimately notched 16 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in 30 minutes of playing time, scoring nine of his points in a span of 2:55 towards the beginning of the second half.
Later on in the contest, Kobie Johnson continued playing some of the best basketball of his Shawnee State career.
With the Bears trailing by a 67-63 margin with 7:24 remaining, Johnson sprayed home back-to-back three-point attempts in a 34-second span to help spearhead a 10-2 run, then punctuated it with a bucket inside with 4:23 remaining for eight quick points as Shawnee State took a 73-69 lead.
Cumberlands closed to within 75-73 with 1:54 left, but on the following possession, Johnson put the game on ice — knocking down his third trey of the half to help finalize the winning result.
Putting together perhaps his finest performance, Johnson matched his season-high with 14 points by going 5-of-7 from the field and 3-of-4 from three-point range.
The senior scored all 14 of his points in the game’s final 7:14.
Along with the previously mentioned, Donoven Carlisle’s five points and five rebounds — along with Jakiel Wells’ four assists to just two turnovers — were also big numbers in the win.
The No. 6 Bears will look to match the school record with 22 wins in a single season on Monday evening at Thomas More (Ky).
Game time in the Connor Convocation Center was set for 8 p.m. in Crestview Hills.
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