LEBANON, Tenn. – Michael Sweat scored 20 points and grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds and two big runs in the first half proved to be the difference in Cumberland’s 83-66 victory over Bethel University in men’s basketball action Thursday at the Dallas Floyd Recreation Center.
The Bulldogs (20-7, 10-4 TranSouth) won their seventh straight game overall and avenged a 76-66 defeat to the Wildcats (15-12, 5-8) in McKenzie on January 16 that started a four-game conference losing streak for CU.
Sweat posted a double-double in the first half with 13 points and 10 boards. Cumberland’s 11-0 run over a four-minute stretch in the first half opened up a tie game in the early going and a 13-2 spurt later in the period put the Bulldogs ahead, 39-22, at the break.
Sweat posted 13 points and 10 rebounds in the half and the Bulldogs forced 10 turnovers, which they turned into 14 points. Five different players scored during the 11-0 spurt and Sweat and Jerret Towns each netted five points during the 13-2 run, as CU got out on the break early and often and limited the Wildcats to just 31 percent shooting as well.
The Bulldogs pushed the lead to 21 points in the first two minutes of the second half but an 8-0 run by the Wildcats cut the deficit to 11 after a jumper by Jarvis Palmer with 14:23 to play. CU scored eight straight of its own to lead by 19 after two layups from Terry Williams, who posted a season-best 10 points.
Bethel would not go away, though, putting together a 21-11 spurt over six minutes later in the second half, led by 12 points from Palmer, including three 3-pointers, the last of which made it a nine-point game with 2:16 remaining.
But CU made 8-of-9 free throws down the stretch to seal the victory and remain in second place in the league standings. Josh Pierce netted 10 points for CU and Towns posted seven points, five assists and four rebounds in 23 minutes of action.
Palmer led all players with 23 points with four 3-pointers, while Caleb Hardy netted 15 points and a team-best seven rebounds for BU.
Cumberland heads to sixth-ranked Martin Methodist on Saturday for a 4 p.m. contest and will finish the regular season at home on February 25 against Mid-Continent.