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Merry Christmas, UPIKE: Bears nail 17 3s, IUS 95-66

PIKEVILLE, Ky. – A more intense version of University of Pikeville Bears – and Coach Kelly Wells – gave their fans an early Christmas gift in the form of 17 made three-point bombs en route to a 95-66 win over NAIA Div. II No. 24 Indiana-Southeast Thursday night at the East Kentucky Expo Center.

Pikeville (8-4) finished the game a remarkable 17-of-30 from the arc and forced IUS into 17 turnovers thanks to 11 steals in the win, which ended a stretch of four losses in five games.

It wasn’t just the three-point shooting. The Bears shared the basketball to the tune of 24 assists on their 34 made baskets. They hit 57.6 percent – 60 percent after halftime – and cruised to the win.

A couple of streaks – one in each half – was the difference. After a three-point play by freshman Spencer Allman gave the Grenadiers their only lead of the night, Pikeville went on a 17-2 run to take command.

The stretch, which lasted 4:04, included two threes each by senior Chris McHenry and junior Trevor Setty and a three-point play by junior Kenny Rhymes. Setty’s came on back-to-back trips to end the run and make it 17-5 with 15:04 to play.

IUS (9-5) – which had five losses to NCAA Div. II No. 1 Bellarmine, No. 3 Southern Indiana and losses to Mid-South members Georgetown and Cumberlands by a total of 29 points – got no closer than six the rest of the half and trailed 43-31 at the break.

The lead was 53-39 when the Bears exploded in the second half. A seven-minute stretch saw junior Chris Watson seven points as the Bears romped on an 18-2 excursion, and when senior Andrew Young sank a free throw with 8:58 left the lead had reached 30 at 71-41.

Pikeville led by 36 on two occasions before settling for a 29-point win.

Four Bears reached double figures, led by McHenry and Setty, who combined for nine three-pointers and had 19 markers apiece. The two were active on both ends; McHenry had six assists and three steals while Setty contributed four handouts and two thefts. Both had three rebounds.

Rhymes tossed in 15 and had a team-best eight rebounds while senior Chris Puckett nailed 3-of-4 from the arc for 13 points.

Indiana-Southeast had only one player in double figures. Sophomore Wes Cox came off the bench for 12 points. Sophomore Joe Lawson had eight points and a team-high eight rebounds.

The Grenadiers, who came into the game second in the nation with 136 made three-point shots on the season, struggled to a 4-of-16 performance at the hands of the aggressive Bears.

Pikeville is off until Dec. 29 when it plays Emmanuel College in Babson Park, Fla. The Bears return home on Jan. 5 when they play Campbellsville in an MSC doubleheader.

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