Junior Josh Wilkerson sunk a pair of free throws with 1.4 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime, but the Bulldogs scored just one point in the extra period as Cumberland fell, 55-52, to the University of the Cumberlands in men’s basketball action here Saturday at the Dallas Floyd Recreation Center.
The Bulldogs (12-6, 4-5 Mid-South) were unable to overcome an abysmal 27.8 shooting percentage from the field, and overtime proved a microcosm of the contest as CU was unable to hit a shot during the final five minutes of play. The Cumberlands (12-7, 4-5) also failed to register a bucket, but four free throws proved to be the difference.
The game seemed to come to a conclusion at the end of regulation when, trailing by two, Wilkerson missed from three with time running out, but a late whistle sent the Memphis, Tenn., native to the line. Wilkerson hit two-of-three to force overtime.
In the second half, Cumberland made just 6-of-21 shots as UC erased a three-point halftime deficit. The Patriots took their first lead of the second half at the 13:55 mark. Cumberland would spend the remainder of the contest fighting from behind.
For the second straight game, Wilkerson sparked the offense in the early going of the first half, scoring seven of the Bulldogs first nine points as the squad jumped out to a 9-2 lead at the 14:45 mark. Those seven points marked the first of his career-high 20 in the game.
Wilkerson’s hot hand cooled, however, as the Cumberlands clawed back into the game, taking the lead 17-13 with seven minutes remaining in the first half. Following a pair of free throws from redshirt senior Lamar Brinkley, freshman Marquel Hickerson knocked down a pair of treys separated by a Lester Gude layup during a 12-0 run from the Bulldogs, culminating in a 25-17 advantage with 3:54 to play.
The Patriots held Cumberland scoreless from that point until the halftime buzzer, closing the frame on a 5-0 run to cut the deficit to 25-22 heading into the locker room.
Hickerson led the Bulldogs with eight points in the half on 3-of-8 shooting, including hitting 2-of-3 from behind the arc. Wilkerson added seven going 3-for-7. Cumberland led at the break despite a poor shooting performance, connecting on just 32 percent (9-for-28) in the first 20 minutes. The Cumberlands shot 30 percent (6-for-20) from the field.
Senior Lamar Brinkley added nine points and nine rebounds in the game, and Lester Gude added five points and eight boards. Hickerson did not score a point in the second half, ending with eight.
Cumberland returns to action Thursday against St. Catharine College for the first of a pair of road contests. The Patriots defeated Cumberland 83-60 Jan. 2, in the two squads’ first matchup this season. Tip-off for the Mid-South Conference outing is set for 7 p.m.