PIKEVILLE, Ky. – Men's basketball put forth a valiant effort but eventually came up short against No. 4 Pikeville on the road Monday evening, 84-78. The game was a rescheduled contest from this past Saturday that was postponed due to inclement weather. Shawnee State (8-12, 2-7 MSC) was able to hang with first-place Pikeville (17-2, 8-1 MSC) in the early minutes and made it interesting late before the hosts were able to hold onto the win.
Trevor Banks finished with a game-high 27 points, while Mark Bryant (16 points) and Sean Elliott (14 points) also finished with double figure scoring totals. However, when it mattered most Shawnee State just did not seem to have an answer for Chris Cantino as he picked up his MSC-leading 10th double-double of the season with 26 points and 21 rebounds.
Shawnee State finished the game with a better field goal percentage as it went 26-of-60 (43%) from the field compared to just 23-of-67 (34%) shooting from Pikeville. SSU was also 7-of-18 (39%) from beyond the arc, while Pikeville was just 1-of-16 from distance. Thanks in large part to Cantino's efforts, Pikeville held a 55-34 advantage in rebounding. The hosts also had a 42-22 advantage in scoring in the paint. To top that all off, Pikeville went to the line 49 times, making 37 of those attempts. This included a 16-of-19 night at the line for Cantino. Shawnee State was 19-of-24 at the charity stripe as a team on Monday night.
The two teams started in a near defensive stalemate as they combined for just 11 points in the opening eight minutes of play. With Pikeville holding a 6-5 edge in the early going, Dante Dunston put the Bears up by a point when he got to the free throw line and hit both ends of the shooting foul. Pikeville would answer to retake the lead but Mark Bryant tied the game up at 11 with just over 10 minutes to play.
Pikeville again took the lead as Cantino completed a hoop and the harm basket. However, Elliott would answer that with a conventional 3-point shot to knot the game at 14-all. After four straight points from Pikeville, Shawnee State would retake the lead with a pair of free throws while Bryant, while Elliott buried three straight free throws as he was fouled behind the arc, giving SSU a 19-18 edge with 7:25 remaining in the opening half.
Shawnee State eventually worked its lead up to 24-23 but Pikeville began to find its grove in the final six minutes of the half as it closed on a 16-4 run to make the score 39-28 as the teams retreated to the locker rooms.
Despite the late run by Pikeville to close out the opening half, Shawnee State came out of the locker rooms with a renewed sense of energy in the second half. It scored 18 of the first 29 points in the second half, pulling itself back within six points, 50-44, with just under 12 minutes to play.
Pikeville stretched its lead back out to double figures shortly after that strong start from its counterparts and would hold a double figure lead until there was 4:29 left in the contest. At that point, Banks converted the old fashioned 3-point play to bring his team within nine points, 73-64. The Bears would also get two points from Andrew Bendolph and a three from Bryant to make it a 75-69 game with just over two minutes left in regulation.
Shawnee State again came up with a defensive stop in its next defensive set but was denied by a block on the offensive end with a chance to make it a one possession game. Cantino would get back to the free throw line for Pikeville in its next offensive trip down the court. He drew the hoop and the foul, converting his own 3-point play to make it 77-69 game with 1:15 to go.
Pikeville would then force a Shawnee State turnover on the next possession and the Bears were forced to foul. Pikeville would hit just the second of two free throws before Devon Carter's trey made the score 79-72 with 44 seconds to play. The comeback looked like it might have some life when Pikeville was sent back to the free throw line and missed both ends of the double bonus. Right on cue, Bryant found Banks in the corner for another 3-pointer to make it a 79-75 game with 22 seconds to play.
The hosts again had trouble at the foul line closing out the game as they missed the front end of the double bonus; however, Shawnee State was unable to make it three successive trips down the court with a triple. Pikeville finally got two free throws to fall with 12 seconds to go, making the score 82-75. Banks would again knock down a three, bringing the Bears back within four but Pikeville would then hit the front end of a double bonus before missing the second. However, Cantino was in position for his final offensive board of the evening, effectively ending what chance remained of forcing the extra session.
Men's basketball will now begin its second tour around the Mid-South Conference this weekend. Up first will be a meeting with Cumberlands on Thursday at 8 p.m. The Bears will battle Georgetown on Saturday after the Homecoming Festivities that will take place between the men's and women's games.