Big second half gives CU men 85-63 win

B.J. Nelson

Jalen Duke dunks for Cumberland.

Cumberland's men exploded offensively in the second half with four players scoring in double digits to pull away for a 83-65 victory over Oakwood University in the team's last game in Dallas Floyd Phoenix Arena during 2019 on Tuesday night.

The Phoenix (8-3) struggled mightily in the first half, shooting 2-of-15 from three, but stepped up bigtime in the second half, hitting 65.4 percent of all shots after the intermission. Cumberland did very well controlling the ball, only committing 11 turnovers and forcing Oakwood into foul trouble.

Cumberland was led by senior Jalen Duke, who registered a game-high 22 points, including 4-of-5 from deep. Aaron Ridley posted 18 points and hit 8 of 10 free-throw attempts. Point guard TJ Stargell finished with 14 points and five rebounds and DeMari Davis picked up 11 points and was two boards shy of a double-double. Heath Starkey, in his first start of the year, collected seven points and two rebounds.

Oakwood (1-10) guard Marquise Hudson led the Ambassadors with 20 points. Hudson made his way to the charity stripe 12 times. Ill'yan Scott came off the bench for Oakwood to hit 8 of 13 shots to finish with 19 points and 11 rebounds, the only double-double of the game.

Cumberland trailed throughout the early portion of the first half, the team's first points coming off the hands of Stargell as the freshman hit a shortrange jumper on the second possession of the game. Duke followed that with a strong move towards the basket, drawing a foul on his shot for the old school three-pointer, hitting the jumper and the free throw as the Phoenix trailed 11-5.

The Phoenix made a run, pushing for a lead with 16:16 remaining in the half, going on a 13-0 run for an 18-13 lead, holding the Ambassadors scoreless for nearly 4 1/2 minutes. The Phoenix took the lead 14-13 when Duke hit a shot from deep which he followed with two buckets from the charity stripe on the next possession to take the lead 14-13. Oakwood followed with a run of its own, taking the lead 22-20 on a three from the left wing as Cumberland seemed unable to buy a bucket.

Ridley hit what was only the second made three for the Phoenix in the first half despite attempting 15 shots to pull within two at 29-27 with just over two minutes remaining. The Ambassadors took a 32-30 advantage into the locker room.

CU came out of the break looking to prove that it could hit a shot from deep, three of the first four made shots coming from behind the arc.

Duke splashed another three home, this time from the right wing, for a 39-34 lead. Starkey, alone deep in the right corner, showed them he could also be a threat from deep, hitting the shot for a 42-38 lead

Davis stole the ball and raced back to lay it in, drawing the foul. The ball bounced around the rim before falling. He completed the three-point play for a 47-38 lead. Levier got his hand into the passing lane, forcing a turnover which he passed to a streaking Ridley, who was fouled on his layup attempt. Ridley made both free throws to make it 52-46.

Stargell took ball from coast to coast, laying in a pretty ball for 59-48 lead. Stargell added six points over the course of only three minutes, as the Phoenix started to express dominance late. Davis flushed home an emphatic dunk for a 65-52 lead after Oakwood made an errant pass while trying to keep the ball in play.

Levier drove from the left wing and made a wraparound pass to Duke three from the right wing with an Oakwood defender in his face, drawing the foul for a four-point play and a 70-55lead . On the very next possession, Duke slammed an absolutely massive dunk, sending the bench and everyone in the stands into a frenzy, on a fast break.

Kole Monson hit an acrobatic falling down basket for a 79-63 lead with just over a minute left. Cumberland was very efficient in the second half on 17-of-26 shooting, including 5-7 shooting from deep.

Cumberland will begin Mid-South Conference play at Shawnee State in Portsmouth, Ohio, on Thursday at 7 p.m. CST.

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