LEBANON, Tenn. – Cumberland University went 2-for-14 from the field in the final 14:36 and let an eight-point lead slip away as No. 14 Union University came back to hand the homestanding Bulldogs a 73-62 loss in TranSouth Conference action at the Dallas Floyd Recreation Center Monday night, snapping CU’s six-game winning streak.
The loss was the first at home for Bulldogs (14-10, 8-4 TranSouth) after winning their first nine contests. CU remains in a tie for third place with Freed-Hardeman University in the conference after the Lions fell at Martin Methodist Thursday.
Cumberland, which is 0-4 against ranked opponents this year, led for all but three minutes of the first 32:21, before going ice cold late in the second half.
Graciano Negron, who was named the Music City Star of the Game, led a trio of Cumberland players in double figures with 17 points, while Walter Simon and Lindal Yarbrough contributed 16 and 12, respectively. UU had four players reach at least 10 points with CJ Davis’ 17 leading the visitors.
After Union (21-5, 10-2) knotted the game at 43 apiece, CU scored eight straight points on a 3-point by Josh Pierce, a layup from Yarbrough and another trey from Simon. However the basket from the Dresden, Germany, native was the last for Cumberland until he made a layup nearly five minutes later.
CU would make only one more field goal in the contest, a jumper in the lane from Negron four minutes after Simon’s last basket. In the last 14 1/2 minutes, Cumberland missed a dozen shots, including all seven attempts from behind the arc, turned the ball over seven times and made 7-of-10 from the free throw line.
Union outrebounded CU 43-32 and snared 14 offensive boards, converting them into 17 second-chance points.
To open the game, UU took an early lead, but Cumberland gained the advantage 2:50 into the contest and didn’t trail again in the first half.
After Union cut the CU lead to two points, Cumberland used an 8-0 run to open the only double-digit advantage of the first half. The stretch was capped with a three-point play from Sweat, which began on the opposite end of the court. Upton swiped the ball from Stan McNeil at the 3-point line and took it the length of the floor, but missed the layup.
Sweat grabbed the offensive board and put back a layup of his own, which went in as the Gallatin, Tenn., native was fouled. The free throw was on the mark, putting CU up 26-16.
Cumberland struggled to find any offense after the run, going 1-for-8 and turning the ball over three times over the next 6:25. In that time Union got back within two points, but CU held onto the lead for the remainder of the first half, taking a 37-34 lead into the locker room.