When the Cumberland University Bulldogs visited Lourdes Hall on Saturday, they surely had revenge on their minds as the only blemish on their record came at the hands of St. Catharine in a 57-55 Mid-South Conference decision on January 3rd. And the visitors from Lebanon, Tenn. were able to even the score as they posted a hard fought 60-54 win over Lena Bramblett’s Patriots.
Cumberland (22-1, 13-1) wasn’t able to claim the victory, however, until the final minutes as St. Catharine (14-7, 8-6) battled the Bulldogs to the wire. Janae Howard sank two free throws with 2:36 to play to pull the Patriots into a 50-50 tie with the sixth ranked Bulldogs. But Cumberland ended the game on a 10-4 run for the six point victory.
After a Jessica Pace basket at 2:07 gave the visitors a 52-50 lead, they scored the next four points at the foul line to lead 56-50 with 35 seconds to play. Machera Calhoun did hit two free throws at the: 28 mark to pull the Patriots within four points but they could get no closer.
“What a great game to watch, and great game for our kids to play in,” said Bramblett. “It was a defensive battle like we knew it would be. We’re down 15 points (43-28 with 14 minutes to play) and could’ve laid down but we kept battling. Our players left it all on the floor.”
Cold shooting caused the Patriots to trail throughout most of the game. They hit just 27 percent (6-22) in the first half and trailed 28-23 at the break. They did improve to 37 percent (10-27) in the second half to end the game at 33 percent (16-22) which included 3-12 from 3-point range.
Cumberland, who holds a two game lead over second place Campbellsville in the MSC, shot 40 percent for the game including 5-15 from behind the arc. They were 9-14 from the free throw line while the Patriots sank 19 of 26 free throw attempts.
Senior forward Reilly Poirier had a huge game for the Patriots with 20 points and 17 rebounds. Howard added 17 points and six rebounds and Riannne Hofstraat finished with 10 points.
The Patriots still are holding on to fifth place in the Mid-South Conference, one game behind fourth place Shawnee State and two games in back of third place Georgetown. They host two conference games this week against UVA-Wise (7-15, 4-9) on Thursday and Pikeville (7-15, 3-10) on Saturday. In earlier road games the Patriots edged Pikeville 59-57 but fell 71-64 at UVA-Wise.