The Shawnee State men’s basketball team left little doubt from the opening tip on Saturday afternoon that it was not going to let anything stand in its way on Homecoming Weekend.
The Bears (11-7, 7-3), who entered the game receiving votes in the NAIA Poll, cruised to an 89-57 win over Bluefield (6-12, 2-8 MSC). Saturday afternoon’s contest was the second time this season the Bears won a game by more than 30. The other came just under a month ago against UC-Clermont, who the Bears beat by 38.
SSU got a double-double from Tyler Morgan, who finished with game highs in both points (22) and rebounds (14). All 14 of the Bears’ healthy players saw playing time in the dominating win.
Twelve of those players scored in the win. Ian Nixson added 12 points while Tyler Boyles finished with 11. Twelve different players also pulled down a rebound on Saturday, allowing the Bears to control the boards by a 51-33 edge in that department.
After starting out with a 6-5 edge just under two minutes into the game, the Bears would never look back after a 14-0 run. That run gave the Bears a 20-5 advantage with 13:17 still to play in the opening half.
Bluefield got the game to a single-digit deficit at two separate points during the opening half. The last of those times came with 8:07 on the clock when the score was 28-19. The Bears put their stamp on the first 20 minutes by scoring 16 of the final 22 points in the opening half and took a 44-25 lead into their locker room.
The Bears shot 45.7 percent from the field in the opening half but they would keep getting stronger as the game progressed. They shot 54.8 percent over the final 20 minutes, including 5-of-9 from three, to finish the game shooting 50-percent from the field (33-of-66).
SSU led by 20 for the first time Saturday following a jumper by Morgan with just under 18 minutes to play. Just over three-and-a-half minutes later, that lead was stretched all the way to 62-32 with 14:31 showing on the game clock.
Bluefield never posed a serious threat to get back in the game at any time during the second half. The closest it came during the final 14 minutes was a 22-point deficit with 5:12 to play.
From that point on, the Bears would finish out the game on a strong note as they just continued to increase their advantage. They would score 12 of the final 14 points to come away with the win in front of the Homecoming Crowd.
The Bears finished with more assists than turnovers in the game (15-14) while forcing Bluefield into 16 turnovers and allowing just five assists. Eight different players recorded a helper in the win, led by Devon Carter’s four dimes. Trevor Banks also had three helpers while Jeremy Bennington and Nixson each had a pair.
Andrew Devlin and Bennington each finished the game with eight points each. Nick Gouch finished with eight points and six rebounds while Ethan Moffat and Banks also had six points in the win.
With seven wins through the first round of 10 games, the Bears are in third place overall and just one game out of first in the MSC. They will have a chance to avenge one of their conference losses this Thursday when Georgetown visits Waller Gymnasium. Next Saturday, they will also welcome St. Catharine to Portsmouth.