INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Down by a 48-38 margin after three quarters of play, the Shawnee State women’s basketball team put together a spirited comeback — trimming a 10-point St. Francis (Ill.) lead to a single possession within the final minute of regulation.
However, the Bears ultimately fell despite their efforts, dropping a 59-57 decision to see their season come to a close on Saturday evening in the NAIA Women’s Basketball Opening Round Indianapolis Bracket A Final Presented by Ballogy at Marian University in Indianapolis.
Shawnee State, which finished the 2020-21 campaign at 19-9, posted a solid 20-of-47 shooting mark against St. Francis, which finished the season as the No. 16 ranked unit in the country.
SSU forced the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference member into 25 turnovers and held the Bulldogs to 37.7-percent shooting (20-of-53) for the contest as well.
However, the Bears were outrebounded by a 33-31 margin, shot just 12-of-19 from the charity stripe, and committed 23 turnovers in all in the loss.
Elzy posts career-best outing with Bears
Down 20-15 following a quick 5-0 spurt by St. Francis within the first 51 seconds of the second quarter, Kam Elzy began to heat up from the floor — and as a result, provided Shawnee State with a much-needed boost that carried the Bears throughout the rest of the game.
The junior guard, coming in to play for the Bears off the bench, drained two consecutive three-point attempts to go on a personal 6-0 spurt that allowed Shawnee State to grab a 21-20 advantage with 6:33 to go in the second quarter.
Back in the saddle in the fourth quarter, Elzy combined with fellow teammate Brandie Snow to score nine consecutive Shawnee State points over the first 3:28 in the frame, allowing the Bears to cut the lead to a single point (48-47) with 6:32 to play.
Down by a 57-48 count later in the fourth quarter, it was Elzy’s bucket with 2:28 to play that sparked a 8-0 run for SSU, which allowed the Bears to close within one on two separate occasions in the final 30 seconds before having to settle for the setback.
In 27 minutes off of the bench, Elzy matched Snow for a team-high 15 points on 4-of-8 shooting.
She scored nine of her 15 tallies in the fourth quarter.
Snow overcomes tough shooting performance to shine late
Despite a relatively off-shooting performance from the floor, Brandie Snow was able to come through late to give Shawnee State a chance to win the game in regulation.
Just 1-of-6 from the field in the opening half, Snow showcased a much better touch in the second half, going 4-of-9 from the floor to team with Elzy to spearhead the comeback.
Her three-point basket with 44 seconds remaining in regulation off a St. Francis turnover kept the contest at a one-possession affair the rest of the way.
Like Elzy, Snow finished with nine points in the second half — en route to 15 tallies for the contest.
The junior led the Bears in rebounds, assists and steals with nine, five and four, respectively.
She holds 1,399 points, 615 rebounds, 292 assists and 241 steals to her credit following her third full season as a Bear.
Pride posts strong effort
Along with the two guards, Anyia Pride was able to enjoy a solid performance herself.
Contributing greatly around Elzy’s and Snow’s production, Pride posted eight of her 12 points in the second half to help aid the late Shawnee State rally.
The Cincinnati native matched Snow with nine rebounds for the team best.
Nickel wraps up another season of success
Despite COVID-19 throwing a wrench in essentially everybody’s plans for the year, Shawnee State head coach Jeff Nickel never faltered.
Nickel, in fact, posted his seventh consecutive season finishing with at least 10 or more victories above .500 with the 2020-21 campaign in the books.
The eighth-year head coach, who is 214-60 overall, won his 200th career game against rival Rio Grande earlier this year.
Snow eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau in the same game, which was the Bears’ fifth of the season.
Official team members of the 2020-21 roster include Nickel, Snow, Elzy, Pride, Carson Roney, Hagen Schaefer, Abbie Kallner, Bethany Mackin, Marnae Holland, Natalie Zuchowski, Evelyn Oktavec, Erika Hendrixson, Doran Martin, Mason Samlow, Shavon Robinson and Levi Roberts.
It was the final game for seniors Roney and Schaefer —with Roney hailing from Pike County and Schaefer from West Portsmouth.
For more information on SSU Bears Athletics, visit www.ssubears.com or visit the Twitter and Facebook pages at https://twitter.com/SSUBears and https://www.facebook.com/SSUBears. For more information on how to join the SSU Bear Club or for sponsorship of specific SSU players or events, visit https://givetossu.com/bear-club and https://givetossu.com/sponsorthebears.