Marquel Hickerson tied his career-high with 29 points, making five 3-pointers, but Elisha Justice and Josh Whitaker made all the plays down the stretch for second-ranked Pikeville in a 64-60 victory in men’s basketball action here Thursday night at the Dallas Floyd Recreation Center.
The Bulldogs hung tough with the Bears (20-2, 10-1 Mid-South), who led for most of the game but watched Cumberland take its first lead of the game, 42-41, on a Lester Gude layup with 12:15 remaining in the contest. Pikeville responded with an 8-1 spurt, with Bruce Reed and Kenny Manigault netting all eight points for a 49-43 advantage with 7:42 remaining.
Lamar Brinkley’s putback after Moritz Dern offensive rebound pulled CU within 49-47 with 5:35 left, but Whitaker hit a 3-pointer and was fouled the next time down the floor and added a jumper plus the foul two possessions later, helping the Bears push the lead back to 11 with just over four minutes to play.
Hickerson made his final two 3-pointers the next two trips for the Bulldogs (12-9, 4-8), making it 58-53 with 3:08 to play, but Reed hit two foul shots and Justice had a layup plus the foul to ice the game for Pikeville.
Hickerson connected on 11-of-22 shots overall and was 5-for-10 from behind the arc, but the rest of the club made just 13-of-46 from the field and was 2-for-10 from 3-point range. Hickerson and Gude, who finished with 10 points, were the only CU players in double figures in the game.
Justice paced the Bears with 22 points and Whitaker added 16. Manigault posted 12 points as well, though Pikeville struggled from the floor, shooting just 39 percent overall, and finished with a season-low in points.
The Bulldogs started slowly and Justice netted 11 of the Bears first 18 points, including three 3-pointers, for an 18-8 UPike lead just six minutes into the contest. But CU settled down and finally made some shots, starting with a trifecta by DeQuan Bond. Pikeville went scoreless for almost six minutes, missing 10 consecutive shots.
Hickerson made a leaner in the lane and Brinkley added a bucket before Hickerson’s 3-pointer from the top of the key tied the game at 18. Justice finally ended with scoreless drought for the Bears with a runner in the lane just before the shot clock ended and Manigault nailed a 3-pointer the next time down for UPike as well, part of a 12-4 spurt that put the Bears ahead, 30-22, late in the period.
Hickerson added another 3-trifecta, made a runner in the lane and then a layup to pull the Bulldogs within 30-26. Keala King connected on one free throw for Pikeville and the visitors led 31-26 at the break.
Hickerson netted 17 of the club’s 26 points in the half, hitting 7-of-11 shots, while the rest of the team was just 4-for-15, including 1-of-6 from behind the arc. Justice paced the Bears with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting with three 3-pointers and Manigault added eight for UPike.
Cumberland takes on Bluefield College on Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Dallas Floyd Recreation Center.