CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Men's basketball completely erased a 10-point deficit from the opening half and led Campbellsville by one point with just over three minutes to play before the Tigers (14-10, 9-6 MSC) ultimately prevailed by a 56-52 final Saturday afternoon. The win was Campbellsville's seventh straight MSC victory, while the Bears (8-17, 2-12 MSC) settled for the season split after downing the Tigers in Portsmouth during the middle of January.
Andrew Bendolph led the Bears in scoring with 13 points on the afternoon. Both Andrew Devlin and Mark Bryant finished the game with 10 points. Devlin also finished with 15 rebounds to post his fourth double-double of the season. Campbellsville got a game-high 15 points from Eric Gaines, while five other Tigers contributed at least six points to the victory.
Campbellsville started to separate itself from the Bears about halfway through the opening half. With just under seven minutes gone by, Kai Turner knocked down a pair of free throws to give his squad a 10-9 edge. Over the next 6:20 of playing time, the Bears scored just two points before a basket in the paint from Devlin cut the deficit to 18-14 as the Bears were also stout defensively throughout the contest.
The Tigers found themselves up by nine points, 25-16, with just over five minutes to play. Shawnee State cut that deficit to as little as six points but Campbellsville built its lead up to a game-high 10 points, 34-24, with 1:19 to play in the opening half. Ethan Moffatt knocked down a 3-pointer to close the scoring in the half, cutting the deficit to seven, 34-27, at the break.
Both teams' offensive struggles from the first half carried over into the second half. Shawnee State's defense allowed just 11 points to the Tigers in the opening 15:48 of the second half. Although the SSU offense also could not finds its rhythm throughout the game, the Bears still found themselves in a 45-all tie with 4:12 to play.
The Tigers retook the lead after that tie score but a 3-pointer from Bendolph put the Bears up for the first time since the 13-minute mark of the opening half. Campbellsville would retake the lead again over the course of two possessions with three free throws before Bryant converted both of his free throws to make the score tied at 50 with 1:21 to play.
Campbellsville scored on each of its next two possessions, while the Bears missed a 3-point shot in between and found themselves in a 54-50 deficit. Devlin added his final two points of the day in the paint, making the score 54-52 with 35 seconds to play.
The Bears forced a turnover just four seconds into the Campbellsville possession; however, they would end up missing a go-ahead three. Being forced to foul, Gaines was sent to the line with 20 seconds on the clock and knocked down 1-of-2 to make the score 55-52. This time, Shawnee State missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer. The Bears were again forced to foul and Campbellsville hit another 1-of-2 at the free throw line to clinch the 56-52 victory.
Field goal shooting (21-of-63 for SSU and 20-of-61 for Campbellsville), along with 3-point shooting (5-of-20 for the Bears and 6-of-20 for the Tigers) was basically even. However, the Tigers were able to make 18 trips to the free throw line, scoring 10 of those attempts. Shawnee State went to the line just seven times, making five for the game.
Men's basketball will return to Portsmouth next weekend for the final home weekend of the season. The Bears will host first-place Pikeville at 8 p.m. on Thursday, February 20. The final home game will be Saturday against Bluefield at 4 p.m. That game will also serve as Senior Day for the members of the Bears' graduating class.