LEBANON, Tenn. – Jessica Pace scored a game-high 17 points, including 11 in the first half, to lead Cumberland University to its third straight victory with a 49-42 triumph over St. Catharine College Saturday at the Dallas Floyd Recreation Center.
Cumberland (7-3) failed to make a field goal in the final 6:16 of the contest but converted on 9-of-10 free throws down the stretch to ice the Patriots. For her efforts Pace was named the Music City Star of the Game.
The Bulldogs led by five at the break and never let St. Catharine (5-6) regain the lead, although the visitors forced three ties in the second half.
After Tamara Gonzalez picked up a steal, Tranisha Benton drained a 3-pointer to give Cumberland a 40-35 lead with 6:16 on the clock. The Patriots added a bucket to make it a three-point game a minute later.
Neither team scored until the 4:00 mark when Kristi Landers made both ends of a 1-and-1 after swiping the ball from Sara Sexton. Landers, who scored four points and left the game early after hitting her face on the knee of teammate Ashley Whitmore, pushed the Bulldog advantage to seven points with another pair of free throws.
With 120 seconds left on the clock, SCC’s Courtney Milam made a basket that cut the Patriot deficit to two points. CU wasn’t able to answer with a field goal, missing a pair of shots and committing two fouls before getting a turnover and heading to the charity stripe again with 33 seconds remaining.
Yalonda Davis, who scored 10 points, made the first of two free throws to put CU up 45-42.
The Bulldogs limited St. Catharine to just one more shot – a 3-point attempt with four seconds left – forced two more turnovers and added four more free throws to make the final score.
Cumberland shot just 33.3 percent, including 29.2 in the second half, but took advantage of 29 SCC turnovers, converting them into 28 points.
Whitmore grabbed a game-best 10 rebounds, while Pace was one carom shy of a double-double after snaring eight in the second half.
The Bulldogs now break for the holidays, returning to action on December 30 when they will host the annual Rosa Stokes Classic. CU will face Indiana Wesleyan and the University of the Cumberlands in the two-day tournament. Trevecca Nazarene will be the fourth team in the Classic, but Cumberland will not face its rival.