DALTON, Ga. – Freshman Marquel Hickerson hit the most important bucket of his team-high 17 points as time expired to lead Cumberland to a 60-58 win over Belhaven in the Carpet City Christmas Classic on Friday at the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center.
Hickerson shot 50 percent from the field, hitting 7 of 14 shots, none more critical than the final shot of the evening. Belhaven had tied the score a minute and 14 seconds earlier in a back-and-forth second half.
Senior Lamar Brinkley added 12 points and eight rebounds to the cause as he and Hickerson finished as the only Bulldogs in double figures. Lester Gude added eight points and five boards off the bench.
CU enjoyed a 30-28 advantage heading into the break, thanks in part to Gude who scored all of his points in the opening frame.
The second half proved to be, in true fashion of the 2013-14 Cumberland squad, a wild one. The two teams traded leads throughout the first 10 minutes of the half, before the Bulldogs opened their biggest lead, a seven-point advantage, at the seven-minute mark.
The Blazers crept back in the contest over the next six minutes, finally drawing even thanks to a triple from Jordan Bedford. CU and Belhaven exchanged a pair of possessions, before Hickerson forced a turnover leading to the final shot, a two-pointer in the paint as the clock hit zero.
Cumberland will return to action at 5 p.m. today for its second and final game of the Carpet City Christmas Classic against Concordia (Ala.), which will conclude the Bulldogs’ schedule for the calendar year.