LEBANON, Tenn. – Men's basketball has scored under 50 points just twice this season. Both of these occasions have come against the Cumberland Bulldogs with the most recent result coming in a 59-49 loss on the road. The Bears (9-19, 3-14 MSC) latest loss mathematically eliminated them from playoff contention.
Ironically, just minutes after snapping an eight-game losing streak the Bulldogs (13-13, 5-12 MSC) also found out they would be eliminated from playoff contention after Lindsey Wilson topped Rio Grande on the road. Lindsey Wilson would also have had to lose for Shawnee State to stay alive in the playoff race.
Mark Bryant (SR, Milford, Ohio) led the Bears with 12 points in the game. He finished with a double-double as he led all players with 12 rebounds in the contest. As a team, Shawnee State shot just 18-of-53 from the field on the night. Marquel Hickerson led the Bulldogs with 19 points, while teammate Josh Wilkerson added 16 points to Cumberland's winning effort.
The game started out as a back and forth contest with the two sides knotted on the scoreboard on four different occasions and a total of six different lead changes just over 10 minutes into the game. However, the Bears would then hit their cold shooting like a brick wall. A jumper from Bryant with 11:11 on the game clock gave the Bears a 13-11 lead. That would end up being the final field goal SSU would hit in the opening half.
Shawnee State went nearly nine minutes without a point until a free throw from Bryant made the score 20-14 as Cumberland was struggling nearly as bad from the field. The Bears added their final two points of the half after Dante Dunston (SO, Dallas, Texas) was fouled shooting a desperation three 75-feet from the basket after a last second desperation heave. He hit 2-of-3 from the line and the Bears trailed just 22-16 at halftime despite tying the program record for least points in a half which was set back in 2008 against Kent State.
The Bears got two points from Andrew Devlin (SR, Columbus, Ohio) right out of the break and had the deficit down to a single point, 24-23, with 17 minutes left in the game after a layup from Nick Gouch (SO, Columbus, Ohio). Cumberland would not relinquish the lead and went on to lead by as many as eight points, 39-31 with 10:21 to play before back-to-back threes from Bryant and Trevor Banks (SR, Fort Pierce, Fla.) made the score 40-36 with 8:06 to play.
Once again, the shooting woes hit the Bears hard. Shawnee State got just one single free throw from Devlin on the scoreboard in the next 6:21 of playing time as the Bulldogs stretched their lead to a game-high 14 points, 51-37, with under two minutes to play before the first of two back-to-back 3-pointers from Ethan Moffatt (SO, Somerville, Tenn.). Those pair of treys were followed by another 3-pointer from Trevor Banks, making the score 52-47 with 52 seconds to play. However, the Bulldogs would hit 7-of-8 at the line in the final minute to seal the victory.
Men's basketball will wrap up the season this Saturday at Lindsey Wilson. The regular season finale will tip at 3 p.m. EST (2 p.m. CST).