NASHVILLE, Tenn. – You can’t tell Michael Sweat that rivalry games don’t have a little extra meaning. The Cumberland University junior has played rival Trevecca Nazarene University twice and has set career highs both times after pouring in 31 points against the Trojans Saturday at Moore Gymnasium and leading the Bulldogs to a thrilling 73-70 win.
The Bulldogs (14-9, 8-3 TranSouth Conference) won their sixth straight game and claimed a fourth consecutive victory over Trevecca.
Sweat, who scored 22 points against the Trojans last month in Lebanon, was one point shy of tying his personal best in the first half, helping the Bulldogs rally from an 11-point deficit early in the contest. He finished with eight rebounds and was named the Music City Star of the Game.
“It’s just a rivalry game,” Sweat said. “There’s something about playing Trevecca that makes me want to step up my game a little bit.
“It means a lot to score 31 points because I work hard in the gym. But in the end it’s a team game and I’m just glad we got the win.”
Cumberland nearly lost the game as Trevecca (10-13, 4-7) had two attempts in the last 10.1 seconds at a potential game-tying shot.
CU fell behind quickly, giving up a basket just three seconds after the opening tip and trailed by 11 with seven minutes gone in the first half.
Sweat put the Bulldogs on his back after that point, beginning with seven points in just 25 seconds. The Gallatin native knocked down a 3-pointer and drew a foul, giving him a chance for a four-point play, which he finished with a made free throw. Following a missed layup on the other end, Sweat drained another trey to cut the deficit to four points.
Sweat then added the next five Bulldog points, including an old-fashioned three-point play, before Kyle Upton knocked down a 3-pointer of his own.
Cumberland fell behind again by double digits with just over four minutes remaining in the half, but Sweat scored seven straight points to make it a three point game. Trevecca made one free throw before Lindal Yarbrough sank a runner in the lane with two seconds left to make it a two-point game at the break.
The Bulldogs posted the first eight points out of the locker room to take their first lead of the contest. The run was highlighted by a dunk by Sweat that came after he swiped the ball from Jeremy Dixon and took it the length of the floor, throwing down the jam over JP Nyadaro.
Trevecca then used an 8-0 run of its own to regain the lead before Upton drained a 3-pointer from six feet behind the line to beat the shot clock. Upton finished with 14 points.
After the Trojans knotted the game at 56 apiece, Sweat sank the last of his four treys giving him 30 points. At that time the rest of his Bulldog teammates had a combined 29 points.
Cumberland used free throws down the stretch to keep the Trojans at bay until the home team’s final possession, which started with Sweat missed the second of two free throws with 20 seconds left. Nyadaro grabbed the rebound and got it to Marquise Rudolph whose shot was blocked out of bounds by Graciano Negron with 10.1 seconds on the clock.
Rudolph and Dixon both missed 3-point attempts in the closing seconds.
The Bulldogs return to the Dallas Floyd Recreation Center Monday to take on No. 16 Union University. UU knocked off Cumberland, 72-59, in Jackson last month.