PORTSMOUTH – Men's basketball entered the weekend knowing it had two top 20 teams standing in its way. It left the weekend with two victories on their home courts after the 80-65 win over No. 20 Campbellsville (9-5, 3-4 MSC) on Saturday afternoon. Just for good measure, the Bears (8-6, 5-2 MSC) also threw in a record-breaking performance by Tyler Morgan as he pulled down nine rebounds to break the school record for career rebounds which had been held for Bryan Dyer for nearly 18 seasons.
In addition to his nine rebounds, Morgan also finished with 20 points in the victory. That was second only to Jeremy Bennington, who finished with a game-high 25 points. Ian Nixson also added 12 points and six assists while Trevor Banks gave the Bears four double-figure scorers with 10 points of his own.
In the early going, it was the visiting Tigers that held the upper hand as they led by as many as five just under five minutes into the game. However, once the Bears gained their offensive footing, a jumper by Morgan and two free throws from Bennington would bring them within a point at 11-10. With right around 12 and a half minutes to play in the opening half, Bennington would then drain a three and the Bears would hold that lead for the remainder of the contest.
SSU would lead by as many as 13 in the opening half after a 10-0 run which included seven points from Nixson with an assist on the other Tyler Boyles' three put the Bears up 30-17 with just over four minutes before the break. The Tigers would go on their own mini run of 7-0 to cut the lead to six before the two squads would eventually head to the locker rooms with SSU holding a seven-point edge, 33-26.
The Bears stretched their lead to 10 just under three minutes into the second half. Keeping the pressure, they would lead by 15 with just under 16 minutes to play in the game. After watching their lead hover right around the 15-point mark for much of the middle parts of the second half, the Tigers had cut the lead to 10 points with just under seven minutes to play.
However, they would get no closer as the score was still a 10-point difference with 5:23 to play. The Bears then went on an 8-0 run to go up by 18, 72-54, with just 2:56 to play. That would be more than enough to put the game out of reach from the Tigers who would end up falling by 15.
Thanks in large part to Bennington, the Bears' bench outscored the Tigers' bench 32-18. The Bears also finished the game with a 44-percent shooting percentage from distance (11-of-25), while the Tigers made just 5-of-23 from beyond the arc. SSU also went 17-of-22 from the free throw line while the Tigers made just 12-of-19 at the line
With the two wins this weekend, men's basketball now sits in a tie for third place in the Mid-South Conference with Lindsey Wilson – the team they defeated on Thursday.
The Bears will now head out on the road this upcoming week as they travel to St. Catharine on Thursday, January 10 before a trip to Georgetown on that following Saturday. The team will return home on Saturday, January 19 vs. Bluefield in what will be a part of Homecoming weekend.