PORTSMOUTH, OH – Seventh-ranked Cumberland outscored Shawnee State 32-12 over the final nine minutes, Brittany Lawson posted 16 points and 18 rebounds and Katie Smith added 20 points and 11 boards in a 79-68 victory No. 11 Shawnee State Saturday at Waller Gymnasium.
The Bulldogs (3-3, 2-0 Mid-South) also got huge contributions from veterans Casie Cowan and TaCouya Allen in the second half, with the two seniors combining for 27 of CU’s 50 points in the second half, including 20 points during the decisive run to end the contest.
Lawson and Smith knocked down all six free throw chances in the final minute to preserve the lead and get Cumberland back to .500 overall and off to a 2-0 start in league play.
The Bulldogs started quickly, scoring the first eight points of the first half, including six from Smith. Three of the field goals were on putbacks, but the lead was short-lived, as Alannah Sheets and Shay Robinson hit 3-pointers for the Bears. Priscila Santos then took over for the home team, hitting the first two of her nine baskets in the period, most of them midrange jumpers from all over the floor.
Lawson made a tough shot and completed the 3-point play and then had a nice catch-and-finish the next time down the floor as well, giving CU a 17-16 edge midway through the half.
Shawnee State answered with a 13-3 spurt, starting with who else – Santos – for consecutive buckets. Sheets nailed another trifecta and Santos added another field goal for a 29-20 Bears lead with 6:49 left in the period. CU was just 1-for-5 from the field with a pair of turnovers during the stretch.
Lawson made two straight baskets for the Bulldogs to end the run, but two more field goals by Santos pushed the SSU advantage to 11. Layce Colter’s 16-footer ended a four-minute drought for CU near the end of the half and Lawson made 1-of-2 free throws the next trip, but Santos’ final jumper on the baseline with four seconds remaining in the period gave Shawnee State a 39-29 lead at the break.
Lawson led the Bulldogs with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, but CU committed seven turnovers and shot just 34 percent, including 1-of-8 for Casie Cowan and 1-of-6 by Williams.
The Bears continued with a 10-point edge in the second half, but they left openings for the Bulldogs, who were unable to convert offensively. That all changed with a Kishaun Williams jumper in the lane with 9:17 to play. Allen followed with a putback and Cowan and Allen hit back-to-back 3-pointers, forcing a timeout with Shawnee State holding a 59-57 edge.
Smith scored on a runner across the lane the next trip down the floor for CU and then Cowan knocked down consecutive trifectas, the second one in the corner off a nice pass from Smith, who finished with six assists as well.
Smith made another baseline shot and Allen drilled a 3-pointer from the wing, forcing another Bears timeout, this time with CU ahead, 73-66, with 1:18 remaining. Free throws by Lawson and Smith sealed the win for the Bulldogs, who also started with victories at Rio Grande and Shawnee State on the road last season to begin Mid-South Conference action.
Cumberland plays again Tuesday at Talladega College at 5:30 p.m. before taking a break over Thanksgiving.