FRANKFORT – No shot was too deep for Ashton Lovely as she buried eight 3-pointers on her way to 34 points to lead top-seeded Shawnee State (Ohio) to an 88-69 win over No. 5-seed University of Pikeville in the semifinals of the Mid-South Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament on Saturday.
Aundrea Matchen paced UPIKE (23-8) with 19 points and Kelah Eldridge and Prestonsburg native Kandice Porter chipped in with 13 points each, but it finished at just 39.7 percent from the field, compared to a 49.1 percent showing by Shawnee State.
SSU (27-5) finished the game hitting six more threes, 11 extra free throws and outrebounding UPIKE 39-37.
After falling behind by 15 at halftime, the first four minutes of the third period were a whirlwind for UPIKE as it sprinted out for the first nine points, eventually getting within four at 47-43 on a short jumper from Porter. But the good vibes didn’t last long as SSU pulled back in front by seven at quarter’s end and slowly built on the advantage from there.
To start the game, UPIKE was ice cold from the field, shooting under 30 percent for the duration of the period. Free-throw shooting was about all the Bears had going, making 6 of 6 to keep things close.
It wasn’t until the final three minutes of the quarter that SSU pulled away, turning a 12-9 lead into a 26-15 advantage as Madison Ridout and Lovely connected on threes in the final minute.
Neither team scored over the first two and a half minutes of the second quarter, but when the shots finally started to fall it was all UPIKE, tallying the first six points of the period. But once Pikeville was within five at 26-21, the scoring flipped sides as Shawnee outscored it 14-6 to lead by 15 at the break.
Shawnee opened the final 10 minutes on a 7-2 run and added an 8-0 spurt shortly thereafter to lead by as many as 20 points at 81-61 with two minutes to play.
SSU’s MSC Player of the Year Ali Zieverink finished with 24 points and eight rebounds, while Ridout finished in double figures as well with 15 points.
UPIKE, ranked 22nd in the most recent NAIA Poll, will find out its postseason fate on Wednesday when at-large qualifiers are announced.