FRANKFORT, Ky. – What started as men's basketball's first trip to the Mid-South quarterfinals ended with a heart-wrenching loss as the fifth-seeded Bears (16-14) saw fourth-seeded Campbellsville (20-11) erase and 15 point first half lead and turn it into a 78-67 win of their own. The second half saw the Tigers outscore the Bears 48-30 over the final 20 minutes.
The Bears were led offensively by a career-high 18 points from Andrew Devlin who shot 6-of-9 from the field and 6-of-7 from the free throw line. Ian Nixson and Jeremy Bennington each finished with 10 points while Tyler Morgan finished with nine points and eight rebounds. Campbellsville was led by Jordan Myers' 25 points. As a team, the Tigers shot 12-of-26 from beyond the arc in the game while the Bears were just 6-of-26.
The Bears took the early lead after Nixson's three answered an early Campbellsville basket. However, the two teams would remain close with SSU holding a slim 10-9 lead with 13:28 to play in the opening half. However, the Bears began to separate themselves by scoring eight of the next 10 points and took an 18-11 lead with 9:17 to play in the first.
Trevor Banks gave the Bears a lead of more than 10 for the first time in the opening half when he hit a three at the 4:58 mark. On the next possession, Devlin got to the free throw line and made both ends of his free throw attempts. After another defensive stop, Nixson hit another three, giving the Bears a game-high lead of 15 points, 33-18, with 2:44 to play.
Campbellsville would close the opening half with a vengeance as it hit three treys in the final 1:22 of playing time. The final three came off of a steal with five seconds to play. After a drive to opposing end of the court, Campbellsville hit the three and drew the foul. The referees would converge, but ultimately ruled that the three went in time. The Tigers missed the bonus free throw but cut the SSU lead down 37-30 at the half.
That momentum from the final moments of the opening half carried right into the second half as the Tigers scored the first 11 points of the final 20 minutes and took a 41-37 lead with 15:07 left in the game. A Tyler Boyles' three would momentarily stop that stretch but the Tigers answered that with an 8-0 run and held a 49-40 lead with just under 11 minutes showing on the game clock.
The Bears would slow down the Campbellsville offense and got their own deficit down to two, 56-54 with 6:49 left in the game. However, they would hit another cold streak and would not score again until the game was 62-54 with 4:14 to play. Nixson stopped that streak with a basket but Campbellsville kept the offense rolling with another 8-0 run that gave them a 70-56 lead with just over two minutes to play before closing out the victory.
The Bears finished the season win 16 wins overall. This is the most wins the Bears have had in one season since the 2006-07 season when they went an identical 16-14 overall.