Shawnee State Captures First NAIA National Title in Men’s Basketball Program History

In a battle from start to finish, Shawnee State (Ohio) came away with the national title at the historic Municipal Auditorium on Tuesday night. The Bears shot just shy of 40 percent from three-point range in a 74-68 win in the 83rd Annual NAIA Men’s Basketball National Championship.

Shawnee State

Shawnee State went back and forth with Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) for the opening minutes but pulled away, beginning with a three-pointer from James Jones to give the Bears a 20-15 lead with 9:59 remaining in the first half. Jones seemed, at times, to be on a mission. The senior from Chicago, Ill., posted 27 points and 10 rebounds as he led all players in both categories. Jones was later named the NAIA National Championship MVP.

The Bears led by as many as 12 in the opening frame but finished with a 10-point, 40-30 advantage heading into the break.

After the half, Shawnee State continued its hot shooting and stout defense. The Bears held the Warriors to 34.8 percent shooting from the floor. In fact, the 68 points were the lowest point total for the Warriors since their game against Yellowstone Christian on January 23, when the team scored 62 points.

Midway through the second half, Lewis-Clark State made its biggest stand of the night. Down by as many as 13, the Warriors went on a 9-0 run, just minutes after Shawnee State’s EJ Onu exited the game with his fourth foul. The Bears, however, were not to be denied. Just two minutes after the lead was cut to four, it was extended again to nine as the team from Portsmouth, Ohio hoisted its first red banner in team history.

In addition to Jones’ stellar performance, Amier Gilmore posted 14 points while Miles Thomas finished with 10 points and eight boards.

Damek Mitchell led the Warriors with 21 points and eight rebounds. Khalil Stevenson followed that total with 19 points, while Trystan Bradley rounded-out the players in double-digits with 11.

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