Getting back on the home court in front of the Homecoming Weekend crowd was just what the Shawnee State women’s basketball needed to get back in the win column Saturday as the Bears won 89-82 versus Bluefield.
Behind a second half surge, the Bears (15-5, 6-4 MSC), who entered the afternoon ranked 20th in the NAIA, led by as many as 16 before finishing off the Rams (13-7, 5-5 MSC). SSU shot 56 percent from the field in the second half (46.8 percent for the game) to pull away in the final 20 minutes.
Schera Sampson turned in another double-double effort with 18 points and a career-high 21 rebounds. Alannah Sheets finished as the Bears’ leading scorer with 21 points in the contest.
Sheets has scored at least 15 points in every game since the New Year. Two of her three 20-plus point games have also come during this span. Abby Feuchter added a 15 points and a team-high five assists to the winning effort.
Despite the final score, it was the Rams that would get the quick start to the opening half as they were doubling up SSU, 18-9, just under eight minutes into the game. A pair of baskets by Alex Pohl sandwiched around a Feuchter three would get the Bears within two just over a minute later.
The Rams would answer back and stretch their lead to eight, 28-20, with 6:27 to play in the opening half. However, the Bears then swung the momentum back in their favor by scoring 11 of the next 14 points to knot the game at 31.
The game would work its way to 37-all with just over a minute to play before the Rams took a one-point lead into the locker room at 40-39.
The two squads would find themselves deadlocked at three other times during the opening moments of the second half. The final tie would come with 17:34 to play and the score 48-48.
A free throw by Sampson would tie the score and begin a 14-0 run for the hosts. Sheets would give the Bears the next eight of those with a lay-up and pair of three’s in consecutive possessions.
Five more made free throws, including three from Desirai Smith and two from Alex Pohl would gave the Bears a 13-point lead with 13:40 left on the clock.
A jumper by Bluefield stopped the run but a basket and three from Feuchter on the next two possessions would give the Bears a 16-point lead – their largest of the night – with 12:28 to go. Bluefield would get the game to a single-digit lead, 69-60 with 9:35 to play, but SSU would answer right back and stretch the lead back to 15 (80-65) with 3:59 left in the game.
A technical foul called on Shawnee State gave the Rams some momentum and they would work the deficit all the way down to seven with 1:27 to play. A free throw on each of the Bears’ next two possession would get that lead back up to nine. However, Bluefield did not go away quietly and hit a pair of free throws and a three following an SSU turnover to get the game within four at 82-78 with 49 seconds to play.
With the Bears still holding the two possession lead, the Rams were forced to foul and the Bears would seal the victory at the charity stripe. They would make 7-of-8 from the line over their final four possessions while Bluefield scored on just two of their final possessions during that stretch.
In addition to the three double-figure scoring outputs, the Bears got nine points from Jessica Vidalez, Pohl and Smith. Diane Abbady also pulled down 10 rebounds to go along with six points.
Thanks in large part to Sampson, SSU held a 46-34 edge in the rebounding department. Bluefield got a game-high 31 points from Ashley White and 26 more from Tequila McNeal.
However, the Rams, who only used eight players total in the game, did not get a single point from their bench. The Rams’ bench would only take a total of four shots in the game.
Saturday’s game marked the midway point of MSC play. The Bears currently sit in a tie for fourth place.
They are just a half game behind No. 16 Georgetown, who they will host Thursday. They will also play No. 25 St. Catharine next Saturday. Those games will give the Bears a chance to avenge losses on the road from earlier this month.