POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. – Walter Simon sank a basket from just inside the 3-point line with 2.5 seconds remaining on the clock in a tied game to give Cumberland University a 63-61 victory over College of the Ozarks Tuesday in the McDonald’s Cam Jam Classic on the C of O campus.
Simon tied a season-high with 18 points, while Lamar Brinkley each added 13 points.
Cumberland (4-6) survived five 3-pointers by the Bobcats in the second half and overcame 13 turnovers for its first victory away from the Dallas Floyd Recreation Center.
The Bulldogs, who led by four at halftime, found themselves trailing by four after one of Ozarks’ treys with 12:36 to play. CU responded with a pair of 3-pointers from Michael Sweat and Kyle Upton.
After the Bobcats’ final 3-pointer of the game knotted the contest at 47 apiece, Cumberland used another Sweat shot from downtown to regain the lead, which it eventually built to four points when Lindal Yarbrough put up a layup and was fouled.
CU kept the lead between two and four points until Mike Wiebe scored the last of his 20 points to make it 61-59. Sweat missed the front end of a 1-and-1 on the following possession, giving the Bobcats (8-5) the ball again with 20 seconds left.
That’s when Graciano Negron was called for his fifth foul, putting Darian Kelly at the free throw line. The Bobcat freshman knocked down both to tie the game.
Cumberland brought the ball up court and called its final timeout with 7.7 seconds remaining to set up the game-winning shot.
Yarbrough inbounded the ball to Trey Carurthers, who put down a couple of dribbles before finding Simon for the final basket of the game.
A desperation 3-pointer by the Bobcats fell well short as Cumberland earned the victory in its final game before conference play begins.
For the second game in a row, Cumberland’s first half was marred by a slew of turnovers as the Bulldogs had eight giveaways before the break, but used a strong showing on the other end of the floor to limit the damage. College of the Ozarks managed just three points off the turnovers in the opening half.
CU started off slow, connecting on just one of its first five shots – a 3-pointer from Simon, who scored the Bulldogs’ first 10 points and had 15 before halftime – before finishing the first half shooting 54.2 percent.
The Bulldogs went up 8-4 on Simon’s second trey of the game before committing four straight turnovers and allowing C of O to regain the lead. The lead changed hands a total of 12 times in the first period, with a Josh Pierce shot from downtown giving CU a 25-23 advantage.
The final nine seconds before intermission featured baskets for both squads, including a layup by Yarbrough after the senior took the ball the length of the floor and released the ball just before the final horn to give the Bulldogs a 29-25 lead.
Cumberland returns home to face TranSouth Conference foe Lyon College Thursday at 8 p.m. in the conference opener for both teams.