PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (Men's Basketball) – Despite trailing by as many as 20 points with as few as 15 minutes remaining, the Shawnee State men's basketball team was able to force overtime – ultimately falling, 77-70, at the hands of Mount Vernon Nazarene University on Tuesday night at Frank & Janis Waller Gymnasium.
Sean Elliott (JR/Canal Winchester, Ohio) scored a team-high 21 points, hitting 5-of-7 from three-point range and jumpstarting a Shawnee State (1-2) run with triples on three straight possessions midway through the second half. Jorian Hudson (JR/Cincinnati, Ohio) added 16 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double in an SSU uniform.
Trailing by 10 at the break, Shawnee State allowed the visitors to open the half on a 12-2 run over the first four minutes to push the Cougars (6-0) to a 41-21 advantage. The score remained seemingly out of hand for nearly 12 minutes in the second half. Though the Bears were able to cut the deficit to within striking distance, the Cougars still led by as many as 11 inside of three minutes to play.
From that point to the end of the second half, the game belonged to the home squad. Devon Carter (JR/Clayton, Ohio) kicked things off with a triple with 3:10 on the clock to make it 59-50, but the Cougars answered with a bucket of their own to make it an 11-point game. They would not make a field goal for the rest of regulation.
Andrew Bendolph (SR/Portsmouth, Ohio) converted on the next possession, a layup with 2:19 on the clock. Hudson added a steal on defense, leading to his own finish. Bendolph followed with a steal of his own soon after, and Hudson connected again to make it a 61-56 score.
Following a timeout and another turnover from Mount Vernon Nazarene, Carter connected from downtown from the corner right in front of a currently frantic student section. The Bears now trailed by just two. On the ensuing possession, Mount Vernon's Eric Roby – who led the squad with 17 points – hit one of two free throws.
The second – a miss from Roby – was pulled down by Hudson and taken up by Carter. Four passes later, the ball landed in the hands of Bendolph at the wing. The senior headed straight to the bucket and finished on an up-and-under between a pair of defenders, collecting a foul in the process. Bendolph – immediately following a timeout – stepped to the line and sunk the free throw with 8.5 seconds on the clock, sending the game to overtime.
Unfortunately for the Bears, the magic had officially run out. SSU hit 6-of-8 free throws in overtime, but made just one shot from the field. The home squad remained in the game, trailing by just three with 22 seconds on the clock, but a jumper from Hudson came up short. The Cougars hit four final free throws to ice it, escaping with the 77-70 victory.
Shawnee State struggled in the first half, making just 8-of-27 shots, including an abysmal 1-of-9 from the field. The Bears faced a deficit as big as 17 in the opening stanza, before the late push.
Elliott's 21 points came up just two short of a career-high, as the junior scored 23 versus Huntington as a freshman. Hudson's 10 rebounds were a game-high for any Bear in the young season.
Shawnee State is back in action on Thursday, hitting the road to open Mid-South Conference play versus No. 2 University of Pikeville. The battle of the Bears is slated for 8 p.m. at the East Kentucky Exposition Center.