RIO GRANDE, Ohio – Cumberland knocked down 10 free throws in the final 80 seconds and Lester Gude blocked the final shot, preserving Cumberland’s 74-72 victory over Rio Grande in men’s basketball action Thursday night.
Marquel Hickerson’s layup and 3-pointer just before the half gave the Bulldogs (5-0, 1-0 Mid-South) a seven point edge at the break and the club led the entire second half, though the lead fluctuated from one-to-eight points and anywhere in between.
Cumberland led 45-38 on Alex Flagler’s layup, but his outburst after the shot earned him the second technical. Jermaine Warmack, who led all scorers with 22 points, knocked down both technical free throws and Philip Hertz made a short jumper, cutting the CU advantage to three with 14:05 remaining.
Ricky Tisdale’s leaner made it a one-point game with 12:55 to play, but Gude answered with a 3-pointer. The Red Storm cut the deficit to one again just over a minute later, but Hickerson hit the trifecta this time and Kenneth Stripling scored after a steal for a 55-52 lead.
From that bucket at 10:05 until two free throws by Hertz with 5:39 to play, just two points were scored between the two teams, with the clubs combining for nine missed shots, five turnovers and making just 2-of-6 foul shots. Hertz’s two free throws at the 5:39 mark cut the CU edge back to one before Josh Wilkerson’s mid-range jumper for the Bulldogs.
Stripling answered a Hertz field goal with one of his own as well and grabbed his own missed rebound on the foul shot before getting fouled again. He connected on both of these freebies and another Wilkerson jumper pushed the lead back to seven with 3:36 to play.
The Bulldogs kept the advantage above five until the final minute and even that came after a turnover with two free throws from Warmack and a jumper by Travis Elliott. CU made 10 straight free throws in the final seconds, including four by Wilkerson, but Gude was fouled with 5.2 seconds left and a two-point lead.
The senior missed both shots, but retreated on defense and rejected D.D. Joiner’s final 18-footer that would have tied the contest, preserving the win for Cumberland.
Gude led four double-figure scorers with 16 points, while Stripling added 15 and five rebounds and Hickerson finished with 14 points and eight boards. Flagler scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half before picking up a second technical foul with 15:12 remaining in the game.
Hertz posted 14 points and nine rebounds off the bench for the Red Storm (3-2, 0-1), while Evan Legg made a trio of 3-pointers and posted 13 points.
Legg’s two straight 3-pointers gave the Red Storm a 24-16 advantage in the first half, but the home team did not score for over seven minutes, opening the door for the Bulldogs. Flagler nailed a pair of trifectas from the wing and he and Hickerson added jumpers as well. Moritz Dern converted a fastbreak layup and Gude connected on another triple for a 31-24 lead.
Warmack singlehandedly got his team back in the game, hitting two free throws, then a 3-pointer from the corner and two more foul shots, knotting the game at 31. The second set of free throws came after a technical foul on Flagler, who converted his two shots at the charity stripe as well after the tech.
Hickerson then made a nice move down the lane and after a turnover by Rio Grande, he nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with seven seconds left in the half for a 38-31 lead at the break.
Cumberland plays at Shawnee State on Saturday, the fourth contest in the current seven-game road swing for the Bulldogs.