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Lady Dawgs shoot down champs
Jan 09, 2007 12:00 am
After going 0-for-2006 against the TranSouth Conference trio of Trevecca, Freed-Hardeman and Union, Cumberland finally cracked the glass ceiling Thursday night when two-time NAIA champion Union visited the Dallas Floyd Center.
Led by a player who's experienced the pinnacle of college basketball, Cumberland conquered the third-ranked visitors from Jackson 79-66 in the conference opener for both teams.
"What a win for this program," Cumberland coach Clint Mason said after his No. 13 Lady Bulldogs improved to 11-1 for the season. "What a way to play 40 minutes.
"They are the pinnacle of NAIA women's basketball off two national championships. But it's one win and our program is at a level this year with 11 upperclassmen, we've got to win more than that. We've got to go on the road and prove that we can beat the Freeds and the Treveccas and the Unions. But this win does a lot for our confidence."
Kiana Robinson, a member of an NCAA national championship team at Connecticut, was on fire in the first half with six three-pointers (in eight tries) as Cumberland came back from an early deficit. She finished with a game-high 24 points.
"The first half, I was hot and my teammates kept feeding it to me and they did a great job of getting it to me," said Robinson, who kept adjusting a knee brace which protects the knee she injured last summer.
She ignited Cumberland from a 9-2 deficit to a lead which reached a high of 22-17. Union battled back to go up by four before Robinson's final triple gave her 19 for the half and brought the Lady Bulldogs within 39-38 by the break.
Renae Williams tossed in two 3-pointers and C'Kala Humes another as Cumberland took control with an 11-0 run early in the second half. Williams added another triple shortly afterward for her 11 points and a 54-45 lead. Humes finished with 18 points.
"I was proud of our team's defensive effort in the second half," said Mason after Union, which shot .583 in the first half, hit just .379 from the floor over the final 20 minutes to fall to 9-3 for the season. "We stepped it up.
"There's players like Ashley Cross, Tomika Hall, Kari Maddox, they don't score a lot of points, but you can't put a value on their defensive efforts in the second half."
After surrendering offensive rebounds which led to a 4-0 Union lead (and a blistering timeout in which Mason could be heard throughout the gym), Cumberland ended up controlling the boards 35-26 as Hall secured seven caroms. Cross passed for seven assists and Robinson four as they shared ballhandling duties.
Hall notched nine points in the post against the taller Union players while Maddox, playing with a cracked kneecap she's dealt with for a year and a half, scored seven, Cross five, Isabelli Cunico three and Mariel Ruis two.
LaTorya Fuller had half of Union's eight three-pointers as she led the visitors with 16 points while Kaitlin Dudley dropped in two triples off the bench en route to 14. Natanya Smith tossed in 12 from the wing while Josephine Owino added 10 from the post as the visiting Lady Bulldogs lost for only the second time to Cumberland in 40 meetings.
Cumberland will face another TSC toughie Saturday when the Lady Bulldogs bus to Henderson to take on two-time conference champion No. 14 Freed-Hardeman at 2 p.m.
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 17 or by e-mail at email@example.com.