Gonzalez free throws give CU 57-55 OT triumph
Thursday, February 4, 2010

LEBANON, Tenn. – Tamara Gonzalez hit two free throws with 2.5 seconds remaining, helping Cumberland to a 57-55 overtime victory over Lyon College Thursday night at the Dallas Floyd Recreation Center in a contest the Bulldogs led almost the entire game but nearly lost in both regulation and the extra period.

The victory ended a five-game losing streak for the Bulldogs (8-10, 2-6 TranSouth). It was also Cumberland’s sixth game in the last 10 outings decided by six points or less.

It was the tale of two halves for the Bulldogs, who shot 65 percent in the first period, led 15-4 in the first five-plus minutes of the game and 33-23 at halftime. But CU made only eight field goals the rest of the way, including one in overtime, a tying bucket from Ashley Whitmore with 41 seconds left.

It also took the Bulldogs more than five minutes to score at all in the second half, not until Keshia Brown’s layup and free throw at the 14:54 mark. By then Lyon had all but erased CU’s halftime advantage and the Pipers tied the game at 36 and then took their first lead of the contest with a Keshianna Hodges foul shot with 11:56 to play.

The two squads were nip-and-tuck for the rest of the game and overtime, though Cumberland took a five-point lead with a 7-2 spurt just after Lyon’s first lead.

CU’s Allysia Bailey, who tied for the game-high with 15 points, hit two free throws with just over a minute left in the second half to give the Bulldogs a 53-49 advantage. Lyon came down and scored on a Lauren Ramsey jumper and then almost immediately made a steal against Bailey, which the Pipers turned into an easy layup, tying the contest with 32 seconds to play.

Cumberland ran the clock down, but Brown and Simone Ryan were unable to connect on a pass under the goal and the ball rolled out-of-bounds with four seconds remaining. Lyon was unable to get off a shot and the game headed to overtime.

In the extra period neither team could find the basket, combining to go just 1-for-9, though the Pipers took a two-point lead with a Jordin Coleman layup with 1:43 left. Whitmore’s short jumper in the lane hit the back of the rim but bounced in, tying the game with 41 seconds remaining.

Lyon had a chance to take the lead but Hodges’ jumper missed and Gonzalez was fouled on a backdoor cut with 2.5 seconds left in the game. The sophomore made the two foul shots for a CU lead, Lyon got a good look at a 3-pointer, with a pass to the opposite timeline and a quick toss to Syeeda Echols, whose trifecta hit the back of the rim and bounced away, giving the Bulldogs the victory.

Hodges scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Lyon, while Echols hit three 3-pointers and netted 12 points.

Ryan posted 11 points and 12 rebounds, including nine boards in the first half.

The Bulldogs started the game fast, taking a 15-4 lead just five minutes into the contest. Bailey netted nine of CU’s points, including a 3-pointer to cap the run. Lyon never got closer than five points the rest of the half, and Whitmore’s layup in the final minute gave the home team a 33-23 edge at the break.

Bailey ended the period with 13 points, as the Bulldogs shot 65 percent from the field compared to just 30 percent for the Pipers.

Cumberland heads to 15th-ranked Freed-Hardeman Saturday for a 2 p.m. contest. The Bulldogs play at home again Saturday, February 13 against rival Trevecca Nazarene at 2 p.m.