LEBANON, Tenn. – Cumberland University scored 14 points from the free throw line in the last four minutes to seal a 71-67 victory over TranSouth Conference foe Bethel University Monday night at the Dallas Floyd Recreation Center.
Four Bulldogs scored in double figures as CU (8-7, 4-1 TranSouth) won its fifth straight home game, remaining perfect on its home court this year. Walter Simon led all scorers with 16 points and was named the Music City Star of the Game, while Haris Batalevic contributed 13 and Lindal Yarbrough and Graciano Negron totaled a dozen apiece.
After a sloppy first half that saw the teams combine for a 26.9 shooting percentage (14-of-52), 21 turnovers and 26 fouls, both squads improved play tremendously after the break.
CU shot 53.8 percent in the second half but more importantly connected on 15 of their 22 free throw attempts. The Bulldogs maintained much better control of the ball, turning it over just four times after giving it away 10 times in the first half.
The lead changed hands 12 times with Cumberland taking the lead for good when Simon made a free throw to complete a three-point play with 3:57 to play. Simon scored 10 of his points from the charity stripe, making 14 trips.
The Bulldogs scored the remainder of the points from the free throw line, going 14-for-19 down the stretch.
Bethel (13-5, 2-2) cut the deficit to two points with a 3-pointer from Jarvis Palmer, but as the ball went through the net Javis Williams was whistled for a flagrant technical foul after shoving Simon to the floor. Adam Barnett entered the game to shoot the free throws with 1.7 seconds left on the clock. The redshirt sophomore made 1-of-2 and Cumberland retained the ball due to the technical.
The inbounds pass went to current TranSouth Player of the Week Michael Sweat, who was fouled with 1.3 seconds remaining. The junior made the second of the two shots to put the nail in the coffin.
Cumberland faces a tough road stretch at the end of the week, traveling to No. 16 Union University Thursday at 8 p.m. before facing No. 6 Martin Methodist College Saturday at 4 p.m. in Pulaski. CU will return to the Cedar City on January 24 to entertain Auburn-Montgomery at 7 p.m.