WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. -- After a defensive battle in the first half, Luke Layhew came alive in epic fashion in the second half to push UPIKE past No. 17 Cumberlands (Ky.) on Thursday, 66-52.
Layhew posted 25 points and 18 rebounds, both of which are career highs for the Ripley, W. Va. junior. His 18 rebounds are the most by a UPIKE player since Michael Lewis had 18 in October of 2015.
Twenty-one of his 25 points came after halftime, which sparked the Bears offensive explosion. Not to be lost in the mix, Jayvian Delacruz also put up a 20-10 double-double, his third of the season.
UPIKE’s win marks the first official loss for Cumberlands at home this season and snaps a four-game win streak for the Patriots. The win also keeps UPIKE in a tie for second place in the Mid-South conference with Life, who the Bears play on Saturday.
Pikeville shot 55 percent in the second half, a stark contrast from the first half. The Bears interior presence made the difference in the game with 36 of UPIKE’s 66 points coming inside the paint.
Cumberlands took the lead with a pair of free throws just after the second half started, but UPIKE took the lead right back with a Delacruz 3-pointer, the first made by either team in the game. Then, Layhew took over. The UPIKE center went on a 10-2 run by himself to give the Bears its first double-digit lead of the game.
The Patriots went on a 9-2 run later to cut the UPIKE lead to three, but that’s the closest UC would get for the rest of the game. Pikeville got the Patriots in foul trouble and to the free-throw line en masse. Delacruz had an off night by his standards shooting (5-12), but still made an impact at the charity stripe, banging home 9 of 10 free throws. As a team, UPIKE went to the line 20 times in the second half to pull away late.
The first half was a mano a mano matchup of the stars of each team, when nothing else was working. Both teams shot below 35 percent overall, neither made a 3-pointer, but Delacruz and Malik Colvin-Seldon both willed their respective teams as much as they could. Colvin-Seldon scored 13 of his 19 points in the first half, while Delacruz had 10 for the Bears.
As much as the offensive increase helped UPIKE, the defensive intensity never faltered after halftime as the Bears held UC to 33 percent shooting in the second half.
The win moves UPIKE to 18-5 overall, and 5-3 in the Mid-South Conference. UPIKE’s road trip will be continue Saturday when the Bears will try to break its tie in second place with Life in Marietta, Ga. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m.