SSU men looking for rare NAIA berth
The Shawnee State men’s basketball will host fourth-seeded Campbellsville this Friday in the Mid-South Tournament quarterfinals.
That game is schedule to tip at 4 p.m.
The Bears (16-13, 11-9 MSC) finished the regular season in fifth place in the Mid-South. At stake this weekend will be the conference’s automatic bid to the NAIA Tournament while the remaining teams will have to wait out their at-large bid fate. If the Bears secure a bid to the NAIA tournament, it would be the first in program history.
SSU defeated Campbellsville (22-8, 14-6) twice during the regular season. During the first meeting, Shawnee State downed the then-No. 20 Tigers 80-65 in Portsmouth during early January.
On the road, the Bears again bested Campbellsville 68-66 at the end of January. In their third season in the Mid-South Conference, the Bears will be making their first appearance in the MSC quarterfinals. In the previous two seasons, an opening round game was held and the Bears fell in both of those contests.
The Bears are led by a senior class that features three 1,000-point scorers for the Bears. Tyler Morgan is the program’s all-time leader in career points (1,770) and rebounds (1,064).
Morgan leads the conference with 10.1 rebounds per game and 15 double-doubles. He is second in the country in defensive rebounds per game (6.7), rebounds per game and total rebounds (294). He is in the top 10 in offensive rebounds per game (3.4) and 45th in points per game (16.2).
Tyler Boyles ranks ninth in program history with 1,172 points while Ian Nixson is 14th all-time with 1,053 points. Boyles is averaging 8.8 points per game while Nixson is averaging 10.4 points per game.
Running the point, Nixson is ranked 30th in the NAIA in assists (115) and 35th in assists per game (4.0). The Bears’ leading scorer, Jeremy Bennington, is averaging 16.8 points per game.
Bennington is ranked fourth in the NAIA in threes per game (3.6) and total 3-pointers (103). He is 32nd in the country in points per game.
The Bears will be the second game to play on Friday. Top-seeded Lindsey Wilson (26-4, 16-4 MSC) will take on eighth-seeded UVA-Wise (11-14, 7-13 MSC) at 2 p.m.
Following SSU, second-seeded Pikeville (24-5, 15-5 MSC) will battle seventh-seeded St. Catharine (19-11, 10-10 MSC) at 6 p.m. The final quarterfinal game Friday will pit third-seeded Georgetown (22-7, 14-6 MSC) against sixth-seeded Cumberlands (19-11, 10-10 MSC).
The Bears have beaten every team in the MSC at least once this season with the exception of Pikeville and Cumberlands — both of whom the Bears would not see until the conference championship. They own season sweeps over Bluefield, Campbellsville and Cumberland.
The winners of the first two quarterfinals will meet on Saturday at 6 p.m. while the second two quarterfinal winners will meet at 8 p.m. Sunday’s MSC Championship game will be played on Fox College Sports and begin at 5:30 p.m.
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