BLUEFIELD, Va. – The Cumberland men’s hoops squad erased a 12-point deficit in the first half and exploded for 53 points in the second stanza en route to a 90-83 victory over Bluefield on Thursday night at The Dome Gymnasium.
Freshman Marquel Hickerson led the way notching his fourth 20-plus point game of the season. The Tullahoma native finished at 8-of-14 shooting, including a 4-for-7 performance from behind the arc.
Hickerson was one of four Bulldogs (11-3, 3-2 Mid-South) in double figures on the game, as Josh Wilkerson, Daniel McFadden and Lamar Brinkley all eclipsed the mark. As a team, Cumberland shot an impressive 58.6 percent from the field on 34-of-58 shooting.
Brinkley also added a game-high eight rebounds. CU won the battle on the boards, 32-27, after being plagued by a size disadvantage in the last two games.
Poor shooting inundated the Bulldogs in the early going as Bluefield (7-4, 1-3) jumped out to a 13-6 lead at the first media break. CU had made just 3-of-10 field goals at the 11:51 mark in the first half. The Rams continued to pour on over the next four minutes, taking a 12-point advantage at 27-15.
From the 7:37 mark in the opening frame until the break, Cumberland would take over the contest. The Bulldogs closed the half on a 22-5 run while taking a 37-32 advantage into the locker room.
Hickerson began and ended the rally with a pair of three-pointers. The first came off a hand-off from Kenneth Stripling with 7:23 on the clock, while the final came with 24 seconds on the clock. Hickerson closed the half with a game-high 12 points.
CU opened the second half at the same breakneck pace from the conclusion of the first. Three straight layups provided easy buckets over the first three minutes before Hickerson buried a three to give the Bulldogs their first double-digit lead of the game at 46-36.
Fouls plagued both teams in the second frame as the two squads combined for 26 fouls during the final 20 minutes. The transgressions slowed the pace but not the scoring as the two teams continued to shoot well.
With Cumberland holding its largest lead of the game at 18 points with 5:11 on the clock, Bluefield buried seven of its final nine triples to cut into the deficit.
Trailing 17-9 with more than 10 minutes in the first half, the Bulldogs scored 81 of their points in the final 30 minutes of the contest. Wilkerson tallied all 16 of his points in the second half.
The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for CU, which will travel to No. 1 Pikeville for a Saturday matchup in the Mid-South Conference. The Bulldogs and Bears are set for a 4 p.m. ET tip-off.
Lady Bulldogs struggle on glass in loss
BLUEFIELD, Va. – Tasia Blue knocked down five 3-pointers and netted a career-best 17 points, but 20th-ranked Cumberland shot just 34 percent from the field and struggled with the size and athleticism of Bluefield, which claimed a 74-56 victory over the Bulldogs here Thursday night at the Dome Gymnasium.
Cumberland (7-6, 3-2 Mid-South) gave up 16 offensive rebounds to the Rams, which the home team turned into 18 points, and Bluefield netted 38 points in the paint in the contest. Asia Wheeler did the damage in the first half, netting 13 points, and Janee Simmons was the culprit after the break, scoring 16 of her 19 points in the paint and on the offensive glass.
Bluefield backed off Blue, daring the junior guard to shoot from behind the arc. She hit 5-of-14 from 3-point range in the contest but the Bulldogs made just 8-for-29 from deep in the loss, including 1-of-6 by Casie Cowan and 1-of-5 from TaCouya Allen.
Even despite the struggles, Cumberland trailed 46-40 after Blue’s fourth 3-pointer of the game with 12:26 remaining in the game, but a 13-3 run by the Rams forced a timeout from the Bulldogs, with Bluefield taking its biggest lead of the contest.
Wheeler netted six points during the spurt and then Simmons posted six straight points, with BC expanding the lead to 20 points after a baseline jumper from Destiny Tolliver with 2:25 remaining in the game.
Allen finished with 11 points and seven rebounds and Cowan added 10 points despite hitting just 3-of-14 shots from the field.
Wheeler finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds while Simmons chipped in 14 boards to go with her 19 points. Teqa McNeal added 10 points, six rebounds and four assists for the Rams as well.
The Bulldogs made just 2-of-10 shots from the field in the first nine minutes of the game and the Rams took advantage, with Alexis Grant hitting a pair of jumpers and netting six points, as Bluefield jumped out to a 14-7 advantage.
Cowan’s jumper at 9:41 in the period ended a five-minute drought without a field goal for CU and Allen knocked down a 3-pointer with 7:32 left before the break, pulling Cumberland within 20-16. But Wheeler took over for BC, recording seven points in just over a minute, including a pair of putbacks, for a 29-18 advantage with 3:22 remaining in the period.
Layce Colter nailed a 3-pointer from the corner and Katie Smith added two foul shots before a trifecta by Blue, but Tolliver’s layup just before the buzzer gave the Rams a 34-26 advantage at the break.
Cumberland will head to Pikeville on Saturday for a 1 p.m. Central Time contest before returning home next Thursday to face Lindsey Wilson.