LEBANON, Tenn. – Michael Sweat’s 3-pointer clanged off the back of the rim as the buzzer sounded, the epitome of the evening for 23rd-ranked Cumberland, as the Bulldogs shot just 33 percent from the field and 3-of-23 from behind the arc in a 55-51 loss to Union University in men’s basketball action here Thursday night at the Dallas Floyd Recreation Center.
The Bulldogs (12-5, 4-2 TranSouth) started the game 2-of-15 from the field and then went 3-for-16 to start the second half. Yet Sweat’s 3-pointer with 1:36 remaining tied the contest at 49, but CU gave up an easy basket to Union’s David Lane on the ensuing possession.
Charles Stewart was called for a questionable double-dribble in the lane and Union’s Dani Marti got lost in traffic and scored another easy basket for a four-point advantage with 44 seconds left. Andrew Ayodeji scored with 14 ticks remaining, but Lane’s two free throws with thereafter sealed the victory for Union.
The two teams combined to shoot 36 percent in the contest (44-of-121), with both clubs, but especially Cumberland, missing numerous baskets around the rim. The Bulldogs held a two-point lead at the half and extended that advantage to six before going ice cold from the field, scoring just two points over a stretch of more than 10 minutes.
Union took advantage, producing a 16-2 run highlighted by points from six players, including six by Antoine Hall. The eight-point advantage was quickly cut to one with a 9-2 spurt by the Bulldogs, including an old-fashioned 3-point play and a short jumper from Josh Pierce. Sweat’s 3-pointer less than a minute later tied the game, but that was the end of the run for CU.
Hall led all scorers with 14 points, while Skyler Vaden posted 11 points and Leventrice Gray netted nine points and 10 rebounds for Union. Sweat was the only Bulldog in double figures with 11 points, while Daniel McFadden scored nine, all in the first half.
The Bulldogs started the game 2-of-15 (13 percent) and trailed 12-3 after a pair of 3-pointers from Hall and two buckets by Vaden. CU responded with a 13-2 spurt midway through the period, erasing a seven-point deficit, including a pair of buckets as well as a 3-pointer from McFadden.
CU stayed in the lead the rest of the half and one free throw by Johnny Williams with 5.8 seconds remaining gave the home team a 31-29 edge at the break.
Cumberland hosts ninth-ranked Martin Methodist on Saturday at 4 p.m. and takes on Oakwood University at home on Monday at 8 p.m.