MOUNT VERNON, OHIO – The Shawnee State men’s basketball program utilized another gritty defensive effort – holding Mount Vernon Nazarene to 39.6 percent shooting from the floor, 30.4 percent from distance – and obtaining 17 second-half points from Ethan Moffatt to allow the Bears to edge the Cougars by a 62-61 mark in a nonconference bout at the Ariel Arena on Friday evening in Mount Vernon.
Shawnee State, who struggled from the floor in shooting 37.7 percent for the contest, overcame that mark by edging Mount Vernon Nazarene – who received votes in the NAIA Division II Coaches Preseason Poll – in rebounds (38 to 32), turnovers (12 to 13), blocks (six to three), and steals (eight to seven).
In addition to the above category, the Bears used a decisive advantage in the way of free throw shooting to grab the victory by making 18-of-26 from the charity stripe compared to the Cougars’ 12-of-17 from the line.
Throughout the first half, both squads would trade the lead back and forth as each team would either tie or trade the advantage at least 10 times in the first 7:09 of play.
Then Devon Carter struck with a huge offensive series for the Bears. After a miss by Mount Vernon Nazarene, Shawnee State would quickly race up the floor and get into its offensive set.
With room on the left wing, J. Murrell shot a pass over to Carter on the left wing, where the senior used a screen by Moffatt to get free from beyond the arc, canning a trey while being fouled by a Cougar defender in the process. The resulting and-one capped a 6-0 tilt and allowed the Bears to grab a 14-9 advantage at the 11:47 mark.
Even though a 16-5 run by Mount Vernon Nazarene would allow the Cougars to jump out to a 25-19 lead with 6:53 to play in the opening half, Shawnee State wouldn’t let the cold spell get to them.
Overall, the Bears would need less than five minutes to go on a sizable tilt of its own as Frederick Moore and Dante Dunston combined to score eight points in a 14-2 spurt of its own in a span of 4:58 – with Moore starting and finishing the run with two buckets in the paint – to give Shawnee State a 33-27 edge with 1:48 to play in the first half en route to a 33-30 halftime lead.
In the second half of play, it would only take one possession to get the Bears off to a thunderous start.
After a Mount Vernon Nazarene missed shot, Nick Tingle took a pass from Moore at the free throw line. The 6-6 senior then faked the shot, planted his right foot and drove hard toward the rim, throwing down a one-handed slam on the Cougars’ Joey Schmitz and drawing the foul in the process.
The Clayton, Ohio product then finished the and-one opportunity from the free throw stripe to kickstart a 9-0 spurt in favor of Shawnee State as the Bears went six-of-six from the free throw stripe following Tingle’s make to push the lead to its largest margin of the contest, a 42-30 gap, with 16:03 to play in the game.
However, over the next nine minutes and five seconds of play, Shawnee State would go cold from the field, as the Bears were only able to muster five points during the span.
During the same stretch, Mount Vernon Nazarene’s offensive would catch fire from the floor, as the Cougars would go on an 18-5 run, with the last bucket of the aforementioned tilt – Brett Vipperman’s three-pointer – giving Mount Vernon Nazarene its first lead since the 4:06 mark of the first half at a 48-47 tilt with 6:58 to play in the contest.
Moffatt, however, was not going to allow the Bears to fold.
In a span of 58 seconds, the 6-5 senior turned a one-point deficit into a four point Shawnee State advantage as the senior nailed two free throws from the line and hit a colossal three-pointer in front of the Bears’ bench to give Shawnee State a 52-48 advantage.
Then after the Cougars cut the deficit down to a basket twice over the following three minutes, the combo forward put together a string of five more points as a bucket from the low block and another trey allowed the Bears to grab a 57-52 lead with 3:09 to play.
Mount Vernon Nazarene wouldn’t quit, as the Cougars clawed back with a 6-3 edge to cut the deficit to one possession again with 57 seconds left before Moffatt came up large for Shawnee State once more with a turnaround hook shot from the left block to give the Bears a four-point cushion with 23 seconds to play.
Again, the Cougars would find a way to make it interesting with less than 15 seconds to play.
Immediately following Moffatt’s basket, Josh Ashwell would make a layup and draw contact to grab and convert on an and-one opportunity to cut the deficit to one with 14 seconds to play.
Then with the Mount Vernon Nazarene defense draped all over them in the backcourt, Shawnee State lost possession as a dive for the loose ball on the floor gave possession to the Cougars with five seconds left.
However, as with so many other instances in this year’s campaign, the Bears’ defense stood tall to the task at hand.
With Ashwell on the move, the Shawnee State defense blanketed the junior, who was forced to heave a three-pointer that clanked off of the side of the rim as time expired, allowing the Bears to grab the aforementioned 62-61 victory.
For the contest, Moffatt would lead all scorers with 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including 2-of-3 from the three-point arc. The senior also added five rebounds and three assists to the stat sheet for the evening.
Dante Dunston would join Moffatt in double-figures by adding 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the free throw line while pulling in a team-high six boards. Tingle added nine points and five rebounds on 4-of-6 shooting from the floor and Nick Gouch added five rebounds, four steals, four points, and three blocks to head the Shawnee State efforts.
The Bears will return to action in the Cougar Homecoming Classic as Shawnee State will take on Marian (Ind.) on Saturday in a 1 p.m. bout at the Ariel Arena in Mount Vernon.