Stifling defense leads Cumberlands past Johnson

(Photo: Cumberlands Athletics)
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WILLIAMSBURG, KY – The 16th-ranked University of the Cumberlands men's basketball team held Johnson, who came in averaging 88.3 points per game, to 57 points as the Patriots posted a 61-57 win Tuesday night on Randy Vernon Court at the O. Wayne Rollins Center. Three Patriots notched double-double point totals as UC improves to 3-2 on the season.

Johnson got off to a 7-2 start to open the game. The Patriots started to rally as a Steven Fitzgerald steal lead to a Jahi Hinson lay-up followed by an Ethan Snapp three-pointer to even the score four minutes into the first half. From that point, UC went on a 12-1 run, which was capped off by a pair of three's from Jordan Griggs to give the Patriots a 19-8 lead midway through the first half. Hinson tallied six of Cumberlands next eight points to extend their lead to 27-14 with 5:31 remaining. The Royals end the half on a 7-2 run to cut the lead to 29-21 at the break.

The Patriots opened the second half on an 8-5 run, including a pair of field goals from Steven Fitzgerald, to give UC an 11-point advantage. Two minutes later, Austin Hall drained a three-pointer to push the lead to 42-28 with 13:58 remaining. Two possessions later, Ethan Snapp connected with Fitzgerald, who completed a three-point play giving Cumberlands their largest lead of the night 45-30. The two teams traded baskets until Johnson scored nine unanswered points to cut the lead to 49-45 with 7:06 left. Caleb Taylor, who was coming off a career-high 19 rebounds against Fisk, netted four points and grabbed two of his game-high 12 rebounds to extend the Patriots lead to 57-47. Johnson utilized a 10-2 run, spanning three minutes to cut the score to 59-57 with 36 seconds remaining. Snapp converted a pair of free throws for UC to close out the game for the 61-57 win.

Fitzgerald led the way for UC with 19 points on 7-10 shooting and 5-5 from the charity stripe. Hinson and Griggs added ten points apiece, while Taylor had 12 rebounds and a pair of blocks in the win.

The Patriots will return to action Saturday, November 23, when they host Simmons College. Tip-off scheduled for 3 p.m.