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Quick start propels CU ladies to 19th victory
Jan 26, 2013 12:00 am
Cumberland scored the first 14 points of the game and never looked back, as Josette Campbell scored 14 points and London Elie added 10 in a 60-39 victory for the No. 7 Lady Bulldogs over Pikeville in women’s basketball action Thursday night at the Dallas Floyd Recreation Center.
Cumberland improved to 19-1 overall, 10-1 in the Mid-South Conference, as the club began a stretch of playing seven of its final 10 games of the year at home after starting conference play with 7 of 10 on the road as the Lady Bulldogs seek their first conference championship since 1999.
"We've got some goals in front of us, some things we want to accomplish," said Lewis, a fourth-year coach whose program last reached the NAIA Championships in 2007 when Clint Mason's Lady Bulldogs lost the national final to Lambuth. "There are some goals in front of us that we can reach. We have a chance to go down as one of the best teams that's ever been here. Our kids know that stuff and that's some added motivation for them, especially with how many seniors that we have.
"The [seven] seniors have meant a lot to me and this program. When I brought them in here a few years ago, I told them the results may not show the first year or the second year. But that third year and going into your last year here, we have a chance to be special. They've bought into that. They've gone through all the wars and the battles. And it's because of this group of seniors. We have great leadership. These kids love to play together. They love to play hard, play smart and they love to play defense, and you love that as a coach."
He also had to love last night's balanced scoring. Six total players scored at least six points in the win, with Casie Cowan posting nine and Jessica Pace registering eight points and a team-best nine rebounds. Briannica Tye handed out six of CU’s 16 assists in the game.
Whitney Bell Jackson led the Bears (5-13, 2-9) with 12 points and seven boards and Brogan Conley added 10 for the visitors.
Cumberland started the game quickly, scoring the first 14 points of the contest before Jackson finally netted a layup for the Bears at the 11:50 mark of the first half. By then five different players had scored for the Bulldogs, including five from Campbell and four by Tye.
Jackson scored the first seven points for Pikeville before a Sally Roberts jumper in the final minute provided the only other points of the half for the visitors.
Cumberland had another 14-0 run later in the period, this one started by a 3-pointer from Cowan, who followed with another bucket before Elie netted 6-of-8 points, as CU took a 36-9 advantage to the break.
Pikeville made just 4-of-23 from the field in the half (17 percent) and committed 14 turnovers, which the Bulldogs turned into 16 points. Campbell led CU with 10 points and Cowan and Elie both netted eight.
"The first half was great," Lewis said. "I loved our defensive intensity. It was really, really good."
The Bears scored 10 points in the first three-plus minutes of the second half, more than in the entire first period, with Conley netting all 10 of her points during a 13-7 spurt to begin the period. She made a pair of 3-pointers and added a field goal plus two free throws. Her second trifecta pulled Pikeville within 43-24, but that as close as the visitors.
"The second half, I figured would go that way," Lewis said. "But we didn't want to play our top seven, eight or nine kids too much. We wanted to get some kids who hadn't been getting very many minutes into the game and let them play."
Campbell hit a pair of jumpers before Calamity Jane Coley and Simone Ryan each added buckets, pushing the Cumberland advantage to 58-29 with 5:29 remaining, the biggest lead of the game for the Bulldogs.
"It was a good team effort by our team, and now we got to prepare for Saturday," Lewis said.
Cumberland will play at home again Saturday against Virginia-Wise at 2 p.m.
Sports Editor Andy Reed contributed to this story.