No. 18 SSU women win program’s 850th game

Honoring two local seniors and strong representatives of Shawnee State, getting a win on Senior Night and winning the program’s 850th career game?

That’s a way to close out a home season.

In a rugged contest that featured 47 fouls, the No. 18-ranked women’s basketball program at Shawnee State withstood the physical play en route to a 79-74 home victory over Life (Ga.) Monday evening in the Mid-South Conference Opening Round at Waller Gymnasium in Portsmouth, sending senior talents Carson Roney and Hagen Schaefer out in proper fashion and allowing SSU to advance to the Mid-South Conference Quarterfinals Saturday afternoon.

With its five-point victory, Shawnee State overcame a 51.9 percent mark (14-of-27) from Life in the opening half and a 41.1 percent shooting mark from the Running Eagles in the game while forcing 24 turnovers in the contest. The Bears committed 17 turnovers themselves, but also notched 16 assists on their 27 made baskets in the win with six players scoring at least five or more points in the triumph.

Snow keeps foot on floor

Needing a big effort from their star wing from Hartville, Ohio, Brandie Snow delivered as the senior from Hartville, Ohio notched 14 points, four rebounds and three assists in the opening half on 6-of-12 shooting, then went a critical 5-of-7 from the free throw line down the stretch en route to a 13-point fourth quarter. Snow grabbed a critical rebound on a missed free throw with 5.8 seconds to play, then hit her final pair of free throw attempts to seal the five-point victory for the Bears.

For the season, Snow posted her 10th game of 20 points or more and her sixth contest of 35 points or more in the triumph. Shawnee State is 9-1 overall when the junior scores at least 20 points in a game. She’s averaging 17.8 points, seven rebounds and 3.6 assists per game on 43.4 percent shooting through 24 contests.

Zuchowski, Pride provide needed shot in low post

Facing a frontline that featured 6-2 center Cheyenne Daphney and 6-0 forward Amara Edeh, Shawnee State’s Natalie Zuchowski and Anyia Pride both produced from an offensive standpoint.

Pride, who scored 12 of her 14 points in the opening half, finished with 14 points and six rebounds while Zuchowski, who posted 10 points, three rebounds and two steals in the fourth quarter alone, notched 18 points and four rebounds on an efficient 7-of-10 from the field. The latter’s performance marked Zuchowski’s best career performance in conference play since her 16-point, eight-rebound assault against Life in a 76-48 victory over the Running Eagles on Nov. 19.

Schaefer, Roney honored before crowd

Due to COVID-19 regulations, a smaller crowd greeted Shawnee State’s two seniors, Carson Roney and Hagen Schaefer, on their Senior Day. However, it didn’t dampen the efforts of the duo or make their impacts to the program any less significant.

Carson Roney

Roney, a Second-Team All-MSC volleyball honoree in 2018 and a Second-Team All-MSC basketball recipient during the 2019-20 season, will enjoy one of the better multi-sport careers in the history of Shawnee State Athletics.

The junior, who notched 453 kills, 172 total blocks and 122 digs in two seasons before moving back to the hardwood over the last two years, is currently averaging 12.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per outing for the Bears. She has scored 634 career points and has pulled down 357 rebounds in her three seasons in a SSU women’s basketball uniform.

“Cutting down nets and winning conference tournaments with my teammates and coaches have been my favorite memories at Shawnee State,” Roney said. “It’s been so much fun playing alongside them. Through the good and the bad, they always have my back no matter what. I will definitely miss them the most. My coaches have done so much for me to make me who I am today. My teammates are like my sisters. I couldn’t imagine playing these last three years with anybody else. I love each and every one of you.”

Hagen Schaefer

Schaefer, well-known for her three-sport accolades at nearby Portsmouth Notre Dame as a high school prep, has helped lead the Bears to 103 victories over the course of her career.

The 5-8 senior from West Portsmouth, Ohio currently holds the team’s highest cumulative GPA at 3.84, has been honored as a All-Academic MSC recipient on two occasions and following the 2019-20 season, earned NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors. She is well on her way to repeating in those areas again as a senior.

Fittingly, Schaefer hit two clutch second half layups to push the Shawnee State lead back out to two possessions on two separate occasions, and knocked down a free throw in the waning moments of the program’s 850th win — the same program that her aunt, Robin Hagen-Smith helped build and her mother, Stephanie, played in.

“My favorite memory would be winning championships with my coaches and teammates,” Schaefer said. “It’s been such a fun experience to play alongside many great players and amazing coaches. We have formed such strong bonds and relationships that will last a lifetime, and they will never break.

I will miss many different aspects about the game, playing and competing to work toward a common goal, but also the little moments, such as the side conversations, the locker room talks, Coach Nickel’s witty jokes and impersonations among other things. Those moments are have what made these last four years so special to me.”

“Carson and Hagen are excellent young women who represent this program well both on and off of the floor,” Shawnee State head coach Jeff Nickel added. “They understand the tradition that we’ve built here at SSU and are two outstanding locals who are well on their way to doing great things in life. We’re proud of how they both have represented the program. We hope to make a run to extend their time inside the SSU women’s basketball program by another month.”

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Kam Elzy’s six second half points were also huge for Shawnee State, who moved to 17-7 overall on the year with the win. The Bears are now 850-218 all time, which is good for a 79.6 percent winning mark — the best among all four year programs in all of Ohio.

Shawnee State will continue its journey in the Mid-South Conference Quarterfinals, with the official opponent to be named shortly.

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