WILLIAMSBURG – The top-ranked University of Pikeville men’s basketball team turned the ball over just four times to help counteract a poor shooting night in a 66-61 win at Cumberlands (Ky.) on Saturday at the O. Wayne Rollins Center.
Pikeville shot a season-low 34.9 percent on its way to a season-low output of 66 points and didn’t hit a 3-pointer, going 0-for-13.
UPIKE (15-2, 6-1 MSC) head coach Kelly Wells couldn’t remember a game in his coaching career without a three and his team was outrebounded 36-32, but found a way to win by taking care of the basketball with 15 less turnovers than the Patriots.
The Bears outscored Cumberlands 20-2 in points off turnovers and 14-6 in points off the bench.
Cumberlands (11-6, 3-4 MSC) shot 44.7 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from behind the arc, but made six less free throws than the Bears who shot 83.3 percent from the stripe (20-of-24).
Bruce Reed led all scorers with 25 points and Keala King added 17. Chris Cantino came up two points shy of a double-double with eight points and 10 boards.
R.J. Scott paced the Patriots with 22 points, including 3-for-4 from behind the arc, followed by Tony Bradley in double figures with 10.
The focus for the Bears early was to give Reed as many chances to work in the paint as possible. It worked to perfection with seven quick points, allowing UPIKE to hold onto an 11-9 lead at the first media timeout with 11:52 left in the half.
Defense was the theme over the first 10 minutes of play with the Bears hitting just 5 of its first 16 shots. The Patriots were a little better at 5-of-11. At halftime, UPIKE was shooting just 27 percent from the field and only had two players with more than two points.
Reed made a pair of free throws for the final points of the half to take the Bears into the break down 25-21. The 21 first-half points were the fewest of the season for Pikeville after scoring 28 in the home win against Lindsey Wilson (Ky.).
Cumberlands took the lead at 12-11 on a three from Scott at the 10:13 mark of the first half and UPIKE didn’t get back in front until two Manigault free throws made it 37-36 with 12:16 to play in the game. The free throws were the end of an 8-0 for the Bears as Taylor Gover answered with a three to put the Patriots back up by two on the next possession.
Three minutes later Manigault hit 1-of-2 free throws to tie the game at 42, prompting the Patriots’ Scott to go on a 5-0 run by himself with a three and hard drive to the basket to take a 47-42 lead.
Down 51-46, King and Cantino tallied back-to-back baskets and another bucket from King a minute later put the Bears back on top 54-53. The game stayed even after that, all the way to two free throws from Reed tying the score at 58 with less than two minutes to go.
Manigualt put Pikeville up by two with a slam off a lob and Cumberlands hit just one free throw on the other end to make it 60-59 Bears with a little over a minute on the clock. Looking to add to the lead, Cantino missed in the paint and the ball was tied up for a jump ball that went to the Patriots.
Scott went to the line for Cumberlands and hit one free throw to tie the game at 60. UPIKE turned the ball over down low on its next possession, but Justice soared to intercept a pass at half court and the Patriots committed an intentional foul on King.
Like Scott before him, King could only hit one of the shots. The Patriots immediately fouled Reed on the inbounds pass and he hit both to make it a 63-60 UPIKE lead with 27.5 seconds left.
Looking to tie the game on the final possession, Lowery turned the ball over and Reed went the distance for a slam to make it 65-60, but was called for a technical hanging on the rim. Scott took the free throws, but hit just one, and Gover came up empty on a 3-point attempt in the final seconds.
UPIKE finished the game off with a free throw from Manigault to take the 66-61 win in a game it seemed to be battling uphill for 40 minutes.
The Bears get back on the court at 8 p.m. on Thursday, hosting Rio Grande (Ohio) at the East Kentucky Expo Center.