LEBANON -- Freshman Marquel Hickerson connected with just eight seconds on the clock and Cumberland’s defense got one final stop as the Bulldogs edged defending national champ Georgetown College in a 63-62 win Thursday at the Dallas Floyd Recreation Center.
Cumberland (12-5, 4-4 Mid-South) led by as many as 15 points in the first half, but the No. 11-ranked Tigers used a 15-of-17 free throw performance in the second half to slowly cut into the deficit. At the 7:09 mark in the second half Georgetown (14-5, 5-3) took its first lead since a 2-0 advantage just 27 seconds into the game.
From that point on, the contest would turn into a dogfight as neither team was willing to budge an inch. The final seven minutes featured seven lead change and five ties.
"We needed this in the worst way," said CU coach Lonnie Thompson. "We've dropped a few games at home, but to be able to knock off Georgetown is pretty special. We're right back in the thick of things."
Facing foul trouble in the second half, Cumberland’s leading scorers in the first half, Josh Wilkerson and Lamar Brinkley, were kept quiet for much of the second. Wilkerson finished with a game-high 18 points on 5-of-12 shooting and 6-of-7 from the charity stripe. Brinkley added 13 points in the contest.
It was senior Lester Gude who provided much of the offensive firepower in the second frame, scoring eight of his 10 points in the final 20 minutes.
In arguably the best half for the Bulldogs this season, CU stifled Georgetown on defense for the opening 14 minutes, leading to a 7-for-20 shooting performance by the Tigers and a 30-18 advantage in favor of the home squad with 5:59 to play.
On two separate occasions, Wilkerson forced Georgetown timeouts with three pointers to conclude big runs. The first came at the 17-minute mark after a 9-0 gave the Bulldogs a 9-2 lead to open the game. The Memphis, Tenn., native answered the bell again with 9:56 in the frame.
A jumper by Noah Cottrill with 15:42 to play would shrink the Tigers’ deficit to 10-7, but the CU defense continued to force stops for the next six minutes. In fact, Georgetown would fail to make a field until Cottrill stopped the bleeding with 9:08 remaining.
Cumberland would lead by as many as 15 points in the half, however Georgetown would fight back to an eight point deficit with 3:51 remaining. Brinkley responded with the next six points to send the advantage back to 11.
At the break, Cumberland still led by 11. Wilkerson led the way with a game-high 14 points, while Brinkley added 13 points and a team-high six caroms. Marquel Hickerson brought down six boards as well, and Daniel McFadden added six points in the half.
Cumberland held the Mid-South’s top-scoring offense, coming in scoring 97.5 points per game, to its lowest offensive output of the season.
Cumberland returns to action Saturday against the University of the Cumberlands for the final contest of a three-game homestand. Tip-off at the Dallas Floyd Recreation Center is set for 4 p.m.