MOUNT VERNON, Ohio – The trip to Mount Vernon Nazarene has not been a pleasant one for men's basketball in recent history as the Bears had dropped eight straight on the road to the Cougars with Shawnee State's last victory at Mount Vernon Nazarene coming back in 2003. The Bears (4-1) snapped that streak Wednesday night with a 70-57 win over their former AMC foe Cougars (3-2).
Trevor Banks finished with a game-high 18 points to lead the Bears offense while Dante Dunston added 12 points off the bench for SSU. Mark Bryant recorded his first double-double of the season with 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds while Devon Carter added 10 points. Martell Medley led the Cougars with 17 points and five assists on the night.
Once again it was a quick start that catapulted the Bears to an early advantage. After an even four-plus minutes that saw the scored tied at six, SSU went on a 12-3 run to go up 20-9 just eight minutes into the contest.
The Bears' largest lead of the opening half, and ultimately the game, came with 8:33 to play in the first half with the Bears holding a 15 point advantage, 28-13, after a jumper from Bryant. The Cougars would get the lead down to seven, 32-25, with 3:26 to play in the half and saw that same margin after alternating free throws with 2:21 to play in the opening half.
Just when it looked like Mount Vernon Nazarene might have some momentum heading into the second half, SSU went on an 8-0 run over the final two minutes of the half and matched its largest lead of the game at 15 points, 41-26, as the teams retired into the locker room. With four points during that final run, Banks finished the opening half with 14 points.
Coming out of the locker rooms, a couple of mini runs from both sides would leave the Bears still holding a 13 point advantage, 53-40, midway through the second half. The Cougars would make their biggest charge of that half right around the 10 minute mark as the Bears went cold from the field without the benefit of a basket for a stretch of nearly four minutes. That allowed Mount Vernon Nazarene to cut the deficit to five points, the closest in would come in the second half, as the hosts trailed 53-48 with 6:47 left in regulation.
With the Cougars closing in, Shawnee State went to work down low and got baskets in the paint from Devlin and Banks. A free throw from Bryant and two more from Dunston would stretch the lead back up to 12, 60-46, with just under five minutes to play.
Mount Vernon Nazarene got back to within seven points, 62-55, with just 2:36 to play but a pair of free throws from Carter and Dunston helped the Bears hold off the late surge for the road win.
For the game, Shawnee State held a 45-29 edge in rebounding. This led to a 15-7 advantage in second chance points for the Bears. Cued by Dunston, SSU's bench outscored the Cougars by a 25-6 margin. The Bears also got to the line 20 times in the contest, making 12 of those free throw attempts while the Cougars made just 11 trips in total to the free throw line.
Riding a four-game winning streak, men's basketball will head to Davis & Elkins this Saturday in its final preparations for the Mid-South Conference season. Saturday's contest will tip at 7 p.m.