PORTSMOUTH – Men's basketball made a huge statement in its conference opener as the Bears took down No. 10 Lindsey Wilson at home 63-54 Thursday evening inside Waller Gymnasium. The Bears used a 41-31 advantage in the second half to seal the victory in front of the home fans. It also marks the second straight season that the Bears (4-2, 1-0 MSC) have beaten Lindsey Wilson on their home floor.
Devon Carter led the offense on the night with 21 points as he went a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line. He was also 4-for-6 from the field which included a perfect 3-for-3 shooting mark from beyond the arc. Andrew Devlin was the only other Bear to reach double figures as he scored 11 points. Carter's perfect night at the line highlighted what was perhaps the key to the victory as the Bears went to the line 30 times while Lindsey Wilson made 32 trips to the free throw line. SSU made 24 of its attempts on the night while the Blue Raiders shot 17-of-32 (53%) at the line.
Defense ruled the opening half as both teams shot under 30-percent in the opening 20 minutes. Shawnee State jumped out to an early 8-3 lead but the Blue Raiders would match that margin with a 15-10 lead later in the half. The Bears cut that deficit down to one on three occasions but would trail 23-22 at the half.
After a strong start to the opening half, the Bears got an even better jump in the second half as they scored 10 of the first 11 points in that half. Trevor Banks started the run with a three on the Bears first possession and hit another basket in the next possession to give the Bears the lead. They would never trail again for the remainder of the contest.
A three from Carter with just under 15 minutes to play in the contest would give the Bears a 10-point lead, 36-26. However, Lindsey Wilson would cut the lead to five, 40-35. The Blue Raiders would still be within five with the score 44-39 and just over nine minutes showing on the game clock.
Carter would then hit a pair of free throws to in the ensuing possession while Mark Bryant drained a three following a defensive stop and the Bears' lead was back to 10 points with under eight minutes to play. Shawnee State would still be holding that lead with 4:20 to play after free throws from Andrew Bendolph and Dante Dunston in back-to-back possesions.
Shawnee State would take its largest lead of the night after two more free throws from Carter gave the hosts a 12-point lead, 57-45, with 3:03 left in regulation. Lindsey Wilson would get to the line and make two free throws in its next possession and follow that up with a basket off a turnover. However, free throws would thwart any possibility of a Lindsey Wilson comeback as the Bears hit four free throws in the final three possessions before dribbling out the clock.
In addition to the leading scorers, Bryant would add eight points and a team-high 11 rebounds the win. Devlin would add nine rebounds to go along with his 11 points. In total, nine of the 11 Bears' players that saw playing time in tonight's game would end up recording a point.
Men's basketball will be back at home Saturday against Cumberland University. The Bulldogs were a 74-72 winner of Rio Grande this evening. Saturday's contest is scheduled for a 4 p.m. tip and will be played as part of a doubleheader with the women playing at 2 p.m.