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Bulldogs rally for win at Bluefield

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BLUEFIELD, Va. – Cumberland erased a 12-point first half deficit in a 90-83 victory over Bluefield College Thursday night at The Dome Gymnasium.
 
Freshman guard Marquel Hickerson led the way 20 points -- the fourth time he has scored at least 20 this season. The Tullahoma native finished at 8-of-14 shooting, including a 4-for-7 performance from behind the arc.
 
Hickerson was one of four Bulldogs (11-3, 3-2 Mid-South) in double figures on the game, as Josh Wilkerson, Daniel McFadden and Lamar Brinkley all eclipsed the mark. As a team, Cumberland shot an impressive 58.6 percent from the field on 34-of-58 shooting.
 
Brinkley also added a game-high eight rebounds. CU won the battle on the boards, 32-27, after being plagued by a size disadvantage in the last two games.

Poor shooting inundated the Bulldogs in the early-going as Bluefield (7-4, 1-3) jumped out to a 13-6 lead at the first media break. CU had made just 3-of-10 field goals at the 11:51 mark in the first half. The Rams continued to pour on over the next four minutes, taking a 12-point advantage at 27-15.
 
From the 7:37 mark in the opening frame until the break, Cumberland would take over the contest. The Bulldogs closed the half on a 22-5 run while taking a 37-32 advantage into the locker room.
 
Marquel Hickerson began and ended the rally with a pair of three-pointers. The first came off a hand-off from Kenneth Stripling with 7:23 on the clock, while the final came with 24 seconds on the clock. Hickerson closed the half with a game-high 12 points.
 
CU opened the second half at the same breakneck pace from the conclusion of the first. Three straight layups provided easy buckets over the first three minutes before Hickerson buried a three to give the Bulldogs their first double-digit lead of the game at 46-36.
 
Fouls plagued both teams in the second frame as the two squads combined for 26 fouls during the final 20 minutes. The transgressions slowed the pace but not the scoring as the two teams continued to shoot well.
 
With Cumberland holding its largest lead of the game at 18 points with 5:11 on the clock, Bluefield buried seven of its final nine triples to cut into the deficit.

Trailing 17-9 with more than 10 minutes in the first half, the Bulldogs scored 81 of their points in the final 30 minutes of the contest. Wilkerson tallied all 16 of his points in the second half.

The victory snaps a three-game losing streak for CU, which travels to No. 1 Pikeville for a Saturday matchup in the Mid-South Conference. The Bulldogs and Bears are set for a 4 p.m. ET tip-off.

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