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HOOPS -- CU shocks Bethel 56-51

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CU's Jalita Fason

INDEPENDENCE, MO -- Cinderella still has some dancing to do.

Basking in the glow of knocking off No. 4-ranked Bethel 56-51 in Wednesday's opening round, upstart Cumberland (18-11) is scheduled to play Lewis-

Clark State in Friday afternoon's Round of 15 in the NAIA National Championships.

Live play-by-play coverage can be heard online at Lewis-Clark (26-6) knocked off Oklahoma City 67-62 Wednesday.

"This season has been up and down like a roller coaster," said CU coach Jeremy Lewis. "We've had stretches where we played well and stretches when we struggled. These kids have fought, battled and stayed together. I'm just so proud of them."

Nashville native and Eastern Kentucky University transfer Nicole Bowers led CU with 21 points and 11 rebounds, her eighth double-double of the season.

Jalita Fason and Bre Neal each netted 12 points, as the Phoenix overcame a halftime deficit and outscored Bethel 30-22 over the final two periods.

With the win, the Phoenix (18-11) advance to the second round for the fourth time in seven championship appearances and first since reaching the semifinals in 2013.

Additionally, Cumberland is the first No. 8 seed - fifth since the format was established in 2003 - since Avila (Mo.) downed Freed-Hardeman 84-82, in double overtime in 2012.

"We made them play to our tempo," said Lewis. "I thought the big deal was going to be tempo. Some of the games that we play in our league are grind it out and turn into half court possession games - much like tonight's.

"I feel like this is the first time in seven-or-eight years that you can throw the seeds out the door, because there are so many evenly matched teams. It's going to make for an exciting tournament."

CU's primary advantage in the game came at the foul line, as the Phoenix outscored Bethel 14-5 at the charity stripe.

Bre Neal and Jalita Fason also had strong performances for Cumberland.

Neal tallied 12 points, eight rebounds and three assists, while Fason tallied 12 points, three assists and two steals.

As a team, Cumberland shot 37.7 percent (20-for-53) from the field, including a 44.4 percent (12-for-27) mark in the third and fourth quarter.

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Bre Neal, Cumberland basketball, Independence, Jalita Fason, Missouri, NAIA, NAIA National Championships, Nicole Bowers, Phoenix
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