LEBANON, Tenn. – Cumberland University went in front to stay late in the first half and then held on down the stretch to deal the University of Rio Grande a 66-60 loss, Saturday afternoon, in Mid-South Conference men’s basketball action at the Dallas Floyd Recreation Center.
The Bulldogs snapped a six-game losing slide with the Senior Day victory, improving to 9-18 overall and 5-13 in league play.
In the process, they also dealt a damaging blow to the tournament hopes of the RedStorm, who fell to 9-18 overall and 4-13 in the MSC with the loss.
Head coach Ken French’s squad now finds itself two games out of the eighth and final spot in the tourney with just three games remaining on the regular season slate.
Cumberland, which suffered a 19-point loss to Rio in its MSC debut back in November, went in front to stay, 25-23, following a layup by Jerret Towns with 3:46 left in the first half.
The Bulldogs enjoyed a three-point halftime advantage, 32-29, and stretched their lead to as many as 11 points, 53-42, after a bucket by Charles Stewart with 4:54 left in the contest.
Rio Grande did not go away quietly, though, and twice closed the gap to just three points late in the game – 59-56 following a layup by junior guard Jermaine Warmack with 1:19 remaining and 61-58 after a stickback of an offensive rebound by senior center Dominick Haynes with 37.6 seconds left – but could get no closer.
The Bulldogs sealed the win at the free throw line, going 5-for-6 at the charity stripe in the final 30 seconds.
Creshaun Holt, Brian Blackmon and Eliah Gillis netted 11 points each to lead Cumberland in the win, while Stewart added 10 points. Holt and Towns also had a game-high nine rebounds in the winning effort.
Rio Grande was led by Warmack’s game-high 20 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals. Haynes added 13 points and equaled Warmack’s five-rebound outing, while freshman guard D.D. Joiner had 12 points in the loss.
The RedStorm outrebounded their hosts, 35-34, and committed just 10 turnovers, but shot just 33 percent from the field overall (20-for-60) and were only 5-for-26 (19.2 percent) from three-point range.
Rio also hit just eight of its 30 field goal attempts (26.7 percent) in the second half.