Down by 18 points with 16:25 to play and by 14 points with 7:39 to go, the Shawnee State men's basketball program picked up one of its gutisest victories under DeLano Thomas' head coaching tenure at Shawnee State, with the Bears overcoming the massive deficit behind 59 combined points from James Jones and Dakota Prichard in a 99-94 overtime win over Grace (Ind.) Friday evening at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center in Winona Lake, Ind.
Shawnee State, who moved to 2-0 with the victory, used a plus-nine rebounding advantage (47-38), a 50 percent shooting mark (40-of-80), and a 40 percent three-point shooting display (10-of-25) to finish off the comeback.
The Bears also outscored the Lancers off of the bench (38-23), posted a 46-36 edge in points in the paint, and notched a crucial 20-9 advantage in second-chance points to go along with an 18-10 edge in points off of turnovers.
"It just seemed like the game slowed down a bit, and our guys started to overcome that adversity," Thomas said of the victory. "Those guys figured out how to come together and focused on the details, and we kept chipping away. It was good to see that performance from our guys in their second game out. Grace is extremely well-coached, got a great system and a good core of guys that are back, so to get a victory like this on their home floor was huge."
Jones, Prichard refuse to be denied in win
Needing a major lift offensively, James Jones and Dakota Prichard provided exactly what the doctor ordered with their outstanding offensive play.
The pair, who combined for 36 of the Bears' final 63 points on the evening, also amassed 15 of Shawnee State's last 21 points, including the final five points in regulation that helped send the game to overtime with Prichard's three-pointer tying the game with 54 seconds to play and Jones' bucket with 32 seconds to go in regulation giving the Bears the point.
Grace's Cade Gibbs made a pair of free throws following a Shawnee State foul with 24 seconds left, but from there, the pair proceeded to seal the deal as Prichard's three-pointer on the opening overtime possession and seven points from Jones in the overtime period gave Shawnee State the distance it needed to take home the win.
In the five-point overtime triumph, Jones scored a NAIA career-high 33 points -- besting his 30-point output with Montana Western against Providence (Mont.) last December -- by going 13-of-23 from the field and adding in seven rebounds and two steals.
Prichard, meanwhile, posted multiple career-highs in a gritty double-double performance. The senior from Lima notched 26 points and team-highs of 11 rebounds and four assists while going 9-of-14 from the floor and 6-of-8 from three-point range. Prichard is shooting 64 percent from the field (14-of-22) and 69 percent from three-point range (11-of-16) through two games this season.
"It's a testament to their work," Thomas said. "Those guys have been working hard with the time we've been able to get out on the court. Those guys -- two seniors right there -- are guys that have kept fighting and worked to be prepared for these moments. I'm proud of the leadership that they displayed tonight."
Carlisle stays with effort, rolls with punches
Despite starting 1-of-7 from the floor, Donoven Carlisle's efforts proved to be tremendous in Shawnee State's come-from-behind victory.
In finishing 6-of-10 from the field on his way to a 17-point night, the senior, playing in his home state of Indiana, kept Grace's defense off-balance with his play in the post. The 6-8 forward also added eight crucial rebounds to help the Bears claim their rebounding advantage.
Following Carlisle, EJ Onu (11 points, seven blocks, five rebounds, 5-of-7 shooting), Jakiel Wells (nine points, 4-of-8 shooting) and Shawn Paris, Jr. (five points, three rebounds) supplied crucial minutes and effort themselves in the win.
With the victory, Shawnee State (2-0) turns its attention to conference play, where the Bears face Life (Ga.) and Martin Methodist (Tenn.) next Thursday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and 4 p.m. in Waller Gymnasium. SSU closes out its pre-Thanksgiving schedule with a nonconference matchup against Rio Grande Wednesday, Nov. 25 at 3 p.m.
"Two teams (Life, Martin Methodist) that I need to do my research on a bit more," Thomas said. "I know that they are going to be well-coached and they both have some kids that can really play. We are going to work to put together a great gameplan, and just try to continue to come together as one unit as we attempt to successfully defend our home floor."
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