In the first match-up of the year between Shawnee State and the University of Rio Grande, the Bears were able to overcome a late deficit and come out 72-64 winners. Shawnee State (8-11, 3-5) used a 20-7 run late in the game after being down 11 to beat the Red Storm (10-10, 2-6) in the heated rivalry.
The first half was a true battle of rivals facing off. The "Pink Out" crowd that was supporting breast cancer saw a half of nine lead changes, six scoring ties and a largest lead of five (SSU). Down four early, Ian Nixson (Columbus, OH) hit a 3-pointer at the 16:58 mark for Shawnee State's first basket. A steal from Jeremy Bennington (Blue Creek, OH) and a layup from Tyler Morgan (Hammersville, OH) gave the Bears their first lead in the game at 7-6.
As the teams battled back-and-forth a jumper from Mark Bryant (Milford, OH) gave Shawnee State the biggest lead in the first half of five with 9:47 remaining in the first half. The damage however was minimized as Turrell Morris of Rio hit a 3-pointer limiting any type of damage the Bears could have further pushed. Even though the half was tight, both teams struggled from the floor.
The Red Storm hit 39 percent from the floor but made 4-9 from beyond the arc and had 12 turnovers. Shawnee State hit only 37 percent from the floor and making only 3-11 from beyond the arc and had eight turnovers themselves. The Bears outscored Rio 14-8 in the paint and scored 10 points off of Rio's turnovers. The teams headed into halftime deadlocked at 31 apiece.
The start of the second half looked like what was going to be a repeat of the first half. Both teams battled it out and no lead grew bigger than five until a 3-pointer from Darriel Hunter (Rio) pushed the Red Storm lead to seven at 45-38. It was part of a 10-3 run that eventually pushed Rio's lead to a game-high 11 points.
However, Shawnee State did back down to their counterparts and went on an 11-1 run of their own to tie the game at 53. The run was started by two free-throws from Tyler Boyles (Raceland, KY) and it ended with a jumper from Boyles. Boyles scored seven points in the run. It was Boyles 3-pointer at the 6:04 mark that gave the Bears the lead for good at 58-55.
Four possessions later, a steal from Nixson and an over the should no-look pass from Boyle's to Andrew Devlin (Columbus, OH) finished off with a two-handed dunk capped off a 20-7 run. A jumper from Morgan at the 2:48 mark kept the Bears up five. Morgan was able to score seven points within the final minutes of the game to hold off the Red Storm.
It was Morgan and Boyle's down the stretch that carried Shawnee State to an eight point victory.
Three Shawnee State players scored in double-figures. Morgan scored a game-high 22 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Boyles, who won MVP of the game, scored 21 points, four rebounds and three assists. Bryant also chipped in with 10 points, six rebounds and two assists.
Jermaine Warmack won MVP for Rio Grande who finished with 16 points, three rebounds and three assists.
For the game, Shawnee State shot 42 percent from the floor while Rio Grande shot 19-43 from the field. The Bears made 5-16 field goals beyond the arc while the Red Storm made 43 percent. Shawnee State did out shoot Rio Grande at the free-throw line making 19-28 compared to 17-34.
The Bears will travel to Campbellsville for a rematch on January 26th in a conference affair. Shawnee State was able to pull out a 50-42 victory at home on December 1st.