The University of the Cumberlands (UC) Men's Basketball program started off the year with one of the best records in the country. After 4 straight losses, UC was in dire need of wins to keep themselves in the hunt for the Mid-South Conference (MSC) Championship as well as a birth in the NAIA National Tournament. Head Coach Don Butcher and staff have worked hard this week with the Patriots and it showed as UC came away with two big victories in MSC play.
On Thursday, the Patriots hosted UVA-Wise, who just two weeks earlier thwarted UC by 15 in Wise. UC was still outrebounded this time around by a margin of 34-31, but the Patriots still held a 37-36 lead at the break. Solid defensive work throughout the 2nd half coupled with the Patriots shooting 44% from the floor in the final 20 minute gave the Patriots a 73-71 victory over the Cavs. Antonio Bumpus (Columbus, OH) led the Patriots with 18 points and 4 rebounds. Benito Santiago, Jr. (Coamo, Puerto Rico) pitched in 15 points and 5 rebounds as well. Markeith Cungious (Hawthorne, CA), Shaquille Lowery (East Moline, IL), and Steve Goins (Chicago, IL) all scored in double digits as well.
On Saturday, it was an NAIA Top 25 matchup as the #25 Patriots would host the #3 Bears of the University of Pikeville (UPike). With the MSC still very much wide open, a win by the Patriots would help their chances greatly as well as knocking off the #3 team in the country would give added leverage in the polls. Shooting 50% from the floor in the 1st half, the Patriots would still trail 34-30 at the break. Holding UPike to just 39% from the field in the final 20 minutes, UC would shoot an incredible 34% from the field in the 2nd half to keep it close throughout the game. With 4.6 seconds left on the clock, it was the shot from Chance Armstrong (Mt. Washington, KY) that would seal the deal for the Patriots giving UC the 73-71 win over the Bears. Bumpus would once again lead the Patriots with 20 points and 3 rebounds. Goins would add 13 points and 7 rebounds in the victory.
The Patriots will be back on the road next week as they take on St. Catharine College on Thursday and Georgetown College on Saturday.
For more information on the Patriots men's basketball program as well as other Patriot athletics, please visit www.cumberlandspatriots.com.