PORTSMOUTH – Men's basketball picked up a signature victory Thursday night on their home court, taking down No. 8 Lindsey Wilson 70-66. The Bears (7-6, 4-2 MSC) trailed for a total of just 1:34 of playing time, and never during the second half. However, they would need to play every last second to hold off the surging Blue Raiders (14-2, 4-2 MSC).
Tyler Morgan finished with a game-high 20 points in the winning effort. He went 8-of-12 from the field and added four more free-throw attempts while just missing a double-double as he finished with nine rebounds. Jeremy Bennington added 18 points in the win while Trevor Banks finished with 12 points. The Bears shot 52-percent for the game (26-of-50), while Lindsey Wilson went just 20-of-53 (37.7%).
Right out of the gates, the Bears were quick to jump on the Blue Raiders as they took a 14-5 lead just under six minutes into the game. They stretched that lead to 10, 16-6, just over a minute later. Lindsey Wilson's first lead of the night came just moments into the game after it made a three to go up 3-2. The Blue Raiders' second lead of the night came after a steal and lay-up at the other end gave them a 19-18 lead with just over seven minutes to play in the opening half.
A jumper from Banks would put his team back on top before the Blue Raiders took their third lead with a pair of free throws during the next possession. An alley-oop dunk by Andrew Devlin on the next trip down the court on a pass from Nick Gouch would give the Bears the lead back and they would not trail for the final 25:31 of playing time. A pair of three's by Bennington down the final minutes of the first half would help the Bears take a seven-point lead into the break, 30-23.
Shawnee State's largest lead of the game came during the opening minutes of the second half. SSU scored the first four points of the second half and would eventually stretch its lead to 12 with just over 17 minutes to play. Lindsey Wilson briefly cut the lead to single figures but a three from Banks would give the Bears an 11-point advantage with just over 14 and a half minutes to go.
The Blue Raiders chipped away at the lead and would get the contest to within five shortly after and for only a few brief moments down the stretch would the Bears' lead exceed five. Despite the constant pressure from Lindsey Wilson, they would not fold.
The Blue Raiders tied the game at 57-all with just a tick under four minutes to play, but a pair of free-throws from Ian Nixson and another three from Banks would get the lead back to five with just over three minutes to play.
A Lindsey Wilson three on its next possession would make it a one-possession game and eventually the Bears would find themselves leading by three with just a minute and a half to play. The Blue Raiders got the game to within a single point with 29 seconds remaining after a pair of free throws, but Morgan would answer right back after being fouled shortly after the inbounds.
Morgan's 1-of-2 from the free-throw line put the Bears up by just two, but a steal from Banks would force Lindsey Wilson to foul him with just eight seconds on the game clock. He would calmly knock down both of his attempts from the charity stripe, making it a two-possession game once again.
The Blue Raiders would get to the foul line but a miss on the front end kept the game at four and the teams would end up trading one free-throw a piece as the Bears picked up the 70-66 win.
Shawnee State's win over Lindsey Wilson was its first in five attempts since joining the Mid-South Conference in which they are in currently in their third year. The Bears and Blue Raiders are now tied for third in the Mid-South Conference standings after Thursday night's results around the conference.
Men's basketball will be back in action this Saturday against No. 20 Campbellsville. That game will start at 4 p.m.