CU falls in OT, 72-68
LEBANON, Tenn. – Jesse Moulton’s 3-pointer with 21 seconds remaining in overtime put 13th-ranked Freed-Hardeman ahead for good and the Lions held on for a 72-68 victory over No. 15 Cumberland Saturday night in the semifinals of the TranSouth Championships in Henderson, Tenn.
Cumberland (25-5) trailed by nine points with a minute remaining in regulation but hit three 3-pointers and had an old-fashioned three-point play, tying the contest on Jamar Finley’s trifecta with 6.9 seconds left.
In the extra period the team’s traded free throws, two each from FHU’s Shun Trevillian and Zack Frey and two apiece by CU’s Rontreal Braxton and Finley. Kristoffer Smith made one foul shot for the Lions and Trevillian added two more before a Finley bucket, a shot where his foot was ruled on the 3-point line, gave FHU a 66-65 advantage.
Moulton hit his trifecta the next trip up the floor and Trevillian made two more free throws, part of his perfect 8-for-8 night at the line. Mario Stowers hit a 3-pointer for the Bulldogs with six seconds left, but Smith added one free throw for the Lions, sealing the victory and a trip to the tournament finals Tuesday at Union University.
Finley scored 13 points for Cumberland, one of five CU players in double figures. Brandon Springer and Kenneth Simms also both netted 13 points, while Braxton and Stowers both collected 12 points. Braxton and Rodney James led the Bulldogs with eight rebounds apiece.
Cumberland shot just 34 percent from the field and was actually below 30 percent until the final minute of regulation. Simms fouled out at the end of regulation and Quentin Turner and Springer both committed their fifth fouls in the extra period.
Smith led all scorers with 27 points, including 13-for-19 at the foul line. Zack Frey posted 17 points and Trevillian added 11 points.
Cumberland held a three-point advantage at halftime and lead by as many as six points in the second half. The Bulldogs held a 43-38 edge after a Springer bucket with 9:16 left in the contest.
But CU went more than four minutes without a bucket, allowing the Lions to put together the 12-2 spurt. The Bulldogs were 0-for-6 from the field and committed a pair of turnovers turning the stretch, with only two free throws from Braxton.
FHU’s Smith made two free throws with 1:11 remaining and another with 59 seconds left, giving the Lions a 57-48 advantage. But Springer hit a 3-pointer before Smith made one more foul shot.
Braxton then had an old-fashioned three-point play. FHU’s Logan Greer hit one free throw with 18 seconds left for a 59-53 lead, but Braxton came back with a 3-pointer and then Freed’s Wesley Hayes committed a turnover with 10 seconds left.
Finley concluded the improbable comeback for CU with another trifecta with 6.9 seconds left, sending the contest to overtime, the second OT meeting between the two clubs this season.
Both teams struggled offensively in the first half, combining to shoot just 30 percent (17-of-57) and committing 11 turnovers apiece. The Bulldogs jumped out 7-1 and 12-5 to open the contest, with Simms netting six of the first seven points and Springer’s old-fashioned three-point play ending the spurt.
But CU misfired offensively over the next five-plus minutes, allowing Freed-Hardeman to run off 11 straight points. The Bulldogs missed seven field goals and committed five turnovers during the stretch until Finley’s bucket with 8:13 remaining in the period.
The game was tied four times over the remainder of the half, with Springer hitting three free throws in the final minute to give Cumberland a 26-23 edge at intermission.
Simms scored eight points and Springer and Finley both added six for CU in the half, while Frey netted 10 points and Smith had seven for the Lions.
Cumberland will find out its fate with the NAIA National Tournament on Thursday, March 12.