FRANKFORT, Ky. – It was a wire-to-wire victory for the Shawnee State women’s basketball Thursday afternoon in the Mid-South quarterfinals.
Paced by a career-high 28 points from Alannah Sheets, the fourth-seeded Bears (22-9), who were ranked 13th in the latest NAIA poll, moved past St. Catharine (19-11), a team receiving votes in the NAIA poll, and into the conference semifinals were they will face top-seeded Cumberland University Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.
In addition to Sheets’ career high scoring day, Shawnee State got a double-double from Alex Pohl who finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Schera Sampson also finished with 10 points in the winning effort. Each of the three Bears that finished in double figures were all-MSC honorees at the conference banquet last night.
For the Patriots, St. Catharine got a double-double from Janae Howard who recorded a double-double with a game-high 33 points and 12 rebounds. They also got a double-double from Reilly Poirer. She finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Shawnee State got off to a quick start as they found themselves up 12-4 less than six minutes into the game. The Patriots would get that early deficit down to one, 21-20, with 7:17 to play in the opening half but the Bears would never completely surrender the lead.
With the scoring working its way to 25-24, SSU went on an 8-2 run to close the opening half. Up four, the Bears closed the opening half strong as a steal from Desirai Smith resulted in an easy layup.
Howard would answer back for St. Catharine with a basket before Smith made a three in the final minute to close the scoring in the opening half, giving Shawnee State a 33-26 lead at the break.
The Bears got their first 10-point lead of the contest with 14 minutes to play after a Diane Abbady layup. Pohl would back that up with another basket on the next possession to put her team up 12, 47-35, with 13:18 to play.
St. Catharine would cut the lead to eight on a basket by Howard but Sheets would answer that with a three and converted the and-one attempt off an inbounds play following a media timeout. Sampson then gave SSU a 14-point lead, 55-41, with just over 11 minutes to play.
The Bears would still be holding a 12 point lead with under eight minutes to go. St. Catharine would get the SSU lead to under nine, 61-52, with seven minutes to play but the Bears would let it get no closer. After the Patriots’ free throw, Erin Dailey made the hustle play for an offensive rebound and got to the line and put her team up 10.
Abby Feuchter and Pohl would put Shawnee State up by 14 with baskets on back-to-back possessions. Howard would again answer for the Patriots but Sheets drained a three to put the Bears up by a game-high 15 points. That basket was also the points that broke her previous career high from earlier this season against Lindsey Wilson.
Shawnee State was still maintaining a 14-point advantage, 71-57, with 2:30 left in the game but threes on consecutive St. Catharine possessions got the game back to within 10 points with 1:34 to play. With the limited time left on the clock, the Patriots were forced to foul and the Bears would seal the game at the line as they matched their largest lead of the night with the 78-63 final.
With the win, Shawnee State advances to the MSC semifinals where it will meet top-seeded Cumberland who is ranked No. 6 in the NAIA. That game will start at 2 p.m. on Saturday. The Bears dropped the home game, 63-58, in the regular season between the two schools before evening the season series on the road in the NAIA game of the week, 61-59, in overtime.