FRANKFORT, Ky. (Men's Basketball) – Sean Elliott (JR/Canal Winchester, Ohio) connected for a game-high 28 points and Andrew Bendolph (SR/Portsmouth, Ohio) added 24, as the Shawnee State men's basketball team all but erased a 13-point second half deficit – but came up just short as the University of Pikeville escaped the ninth-seeded SSU squad, 87-77, in the Mid-South Conference quarterfinals on Friday afternoon at the Frankfort Convention Center.
The season comes to an end for the Bears, who finished the year with an 11-19 record, including a 4-12 mark in the Mid-South. SSU did record a victory over the then-No. 1 ranked Campbellsville University and notched its first MSC Tournament victory in program history.
As for Friday, the Bears jumped out to a 17-7 early advantage on the heavily-favored UPike squad, as Jorian Hudson (JR/Cincinnati, Ohio) opened with a bucket before Bendolph connected on his first three of the contest to open the afternoon. Bendolph finished 4-of-7 from long distance, bested only by Elliott, who finished 6-of-10.
Elliott came through with his first two triples at the 16:39 mark in the first half and 35 seconds later on the ensuing possession, putting the Bears ahead 15-6. SSU made it 17-7 when Hudson connected again with 15:30 to play.
UPike worked their way back into the game and had cut the deficit to one with a three from Macari Brooks with 5:31 remaining. The higher seed took the lead one possession later on a pair of Brooks' free throws. Said possession would be the last time Shawnee State would lead.
Pikeville extended the lead over the remainder of the half, pushing ahead by as many as 10, before a three-pointer from Jackson Hussey send them into the locker room ahead 40-29, their biggest lead of the game.
Shawnee State cut the deficit inside of 10 for the first time when Bendolph connected for three with 17:53 in the second half, and kept it at single digits until the 7:56, getting as close as two. UPike made it 11 with two free throws from Mid-South Conference Player of the Year Kenny Manigault.
Down by 11, the Bears responded in a big way as Elliott caught fire from the field. The junior connected on his final six attempts, including 4-of-4 from long range over the final 15:31 in the game. During a stretch from the 15:31 mark to the 14:19 mark, Elliott connected on three straight triples.
A defining moment in he game came at the 2:49 mark in the game. With SSU trailing by five, Elliott was called for his fifth and final foul of the night – a very questionable block call – sending Hussey to the free throw line for two. On the night UPike would head to the line 39 times, compared to just 22 for SSU. Pikeville converted on 28 of those attempts.
Shawnee State was able to cut the deficit to three in one final last-ditch effort when Bendolph connected for a long three with two minutes left, but UPike was able to connect on 8-of-8 free throws down the stretch to put the game away.
Manigault finished with a team-high 24 points for Pikeville, as K.K. Simmons added a quiet 17 points and Brooks finished with 16. Christian Leach added a double-double with 10 points and 11 boards.
Bendolph and Elliott were the only two Bear players to finish in double-figures, though Hudson added eight points and seven rebounds. Jacob Daniels (SO/Peebles, Ohio) finished with the same stat line as Hudson.