LEBANON -- Union University's No. 3-ranked women escaped with a 60-57 victory over a determined Cumberland squad Thursday night at the Dallas Floyd Recreation Center. The nip and tuck affair featured 15 lead changes with the outcome in doubt all the way down to the final 20 seconds.
"It was really something to see how our kids competed on every possession," said CU coach Jeremy Lewis. "This bunch has given us everything they have in practice and games. We're starting to execute a little better, I'm thinking we're going to be a very tough team to play against in February."
CU's Jessica Pace drilled a pair of free throws to tie the game at 54-all with 2:33 left, only to see Union take the lead for good on a jumper by Lavanda Ross second later.
Cumberland missed a shot on the next possession, then lost the ball out of bounds. Forced to foul, CU sent Union's Amy Philmalee to the line where the 5-5 freshman drilled a pair of free throws for a 58-54 lead.
Tamara Gonzalez ripped a 3-pointer from the left win with 2.9 seconds, to play to cut the margin to 58-57. Again forced to foul, CU placed Ross at the line who iced the game with a pair of free throws.
Cumberland (5-11 / 2-4 in the TranSouth Conference) placed three players in double figures -- Courtney Atkinson with 15, Jessica Pace with 12 and Casie Cowan with 10. Pace pulled in seven rebounds and handed out five assists.
Union improved to 18-2 overall and 5-1 in the league. Ross led Union with 14 while Philamlee and Astrid Huttemann each finished with 12.
STATS -- Cumberland outrebounded Union C4-28 and finished 11-of-12 at the line ((92%). Union was 9-of-16 at the stripe (56%), but came up with 29 points off the bench compared to just 14 for Cumberland. The game was tied 28-all at intermission. Union's largest lead was five points at the 9:34 point in the second half; Cumberland's largest lead was a six-point margin at the 13:37 mark of the first half.
CU will host TranSouth rival Martin Methodist Saturday, Jan. 21 in a 2 p.m. twinbill at the Floyd Center.
MEN'S GAME -- Michael Sweats 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 mens 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 Sweats 3-pointer with 1:36 remaining tied the contest at 49, but CU gave up an easy basket to Unions David Lane on the ensuing possession.
Charles Stewart was called for a questionable double-dribble in the lane and Unions 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 Lanes 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. Sweats 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.