Shawnee State needed every bit of Devon Carter’s five points to beat the Bulldogs of Cumberland University in what was a nailbiter from the start.
The Bears (3-3, 1-1) got clutch shooting down the stretch and a complete team effort to beat the Bulldogs (2-3, 0-2), 64-62.
“I thought it was a gutsy performance in a back-and-forth game and I thought our guys really stuck their noses in and battled down the stretch,” Shawnee State coach Jeff Hamilton said.
In the first half the team’s battled throughout as the crowd witnessed eight lead changes and two scoring ties.
Two early 3-pointers by Tyler Boyles and Jeremy Bennington gave the Bears a quick 6-2 lead. However, the Bulldogs scored the next five points giving them a 7-6 advantage.
With 14:04 remaining in the half Ian Nixson knocked down a pair of free throws to give the Bears a 13-7 lead, which was their largest lead of the half.
However, a 7-0 run by Cumberland over the next 3:35 quickly gave the Bulldogs a 14-13 lead with 11:19 left in the half.
As the two teams continued to exchange baskets throughout the half with both shooting better than 48 percent, the Bulldogs got the better of the Bears in the next 2:44 minute span.
Paced by a combined 22 points from Cumberland Brian Blackmon and E.J. Perry, the Bulldogs went on a 10-0 run to extend their lead to 30-20 with 5:01 left in the half, marking their largest of the game.
With no quit in their minds the Bears battled back. A tip-in from Andrew Devlin and a jumper on the next possession by Tyler Morgan sparked an 8-0 run pulling Shawnee State back within 30-28.
The Bears matched Blackmon and Perry with five players who scored as Nixson lead the team with nine points in the first 20 minutes of play.
The Bears closed the half on a 12-6 run in the last 5:01 to enter halftime down 36-32.
“That run was big and we hit some big threes and it was huge for us,” Hamilton said.
Shawnee State picked up where they left off in the second half. With momentum on their side, the Bears used a key 10-0 run to grab a 46-42 lead with 10:48 left in the game.
The run was highlighted by an emphatic block by Nick Gouch leading to a jumper by Bennington. Bennington accounted for six of those 10 points in almost a four minute time span.
“It is nice to have Nick, he adds some athleticism and depth to our team,” Hamilton said.
Bennington’s free throw at the 11:42 mark gave Shawnee State their first lead since 7:26 in the first half at 43-42.
Shawnee State was able to hold that lead for about six minutes until Lester Gude hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 54-54 with 4:47 left in the game.
On the following possession for the Bulldogs, Blackmon made a free throw and gave Cumberland the lead once more.
However, a 3-pointer by Bennington tied the game and freshman Devon Carter hit the biggest 3-pointer all game in the corner with 2:43 left which gave the Bears a 60-59 advantage.
“His three in the corner was huge,” Hamilton said. “He decided that his first 3-pointer of the season was when we were down two and it was great for Devon.”
After two huge free throws were made from Morgan, Gude answered for the Bulldogs, hitting a deep 3-pointer to tie the game at 62-62.
Carter, had the clutch gene for the Bears all night as a made scramble with time winding down ended up in Carters hands.
Carter was fouled and calmly hit two free throws giving the Bears the victory.
“It was great plays from Devon he track down the loose ball in the end and stepped up to the line with confidence and made two free throws,” Hamilton said.
Shawnee State was lead by Bennington, who finished with 17 points and eight rebounds. Morgan had a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds and Boyles added 12 points making 2-of-6 from beyond the arc.
The Bears are scheduled to play rival Rio Grande on Tuesday, November 27. Tipoff is set to follow after the women’s game.
Cumberland 36 26 62
Shawnee State 32 32 64
Cumberland— Blackmon 5-2-12, Perry 6-0-15, Williams 1-1-3, Gilles 1-0-2, Abdul-Kaudeyr 5-3-13, Gude 4-0-11, Holt 1-4-6
3-point— Perry (3), Gude (3)
Shawnee State— Devlin 1-0-2, Nixson 3-2-9, Boyles 5-0-12, Morgan 4-7-15, Carter 1-2-5, Bennington 5-4-17, Banks 1-0-2, Gouch 1-0-2
3-point— Nixson (1), Boyles (2), Bennington (3)