LEBANON, Tenn. -- It wasn’t the prettiest performance on Saturday for UPIKE men’s basketball at Cumberland, but it may have been the grittiest, as the Bears came back late to defeat the Phoenix, 81-72.
UPIKE’s reserve post players provided the difference on Saturday. Da’Rell Domineck had the best game of his career, pouring in 23 points on 9-11 shooting with seven rebounds. Meanwhile, Stanley Perrin added nine points on perfect 4-4 shooting.
Cumberland’s game plan was obvious from the opening tip, as they tried to slow down and harass the normally free and smooth UPIKE offensive attack. That plan worked for about the first 30 minutes.
The opening eight minutes was basically a one-on-one war between Domineck and Cumberland post Ty Sean Powell, as the two seemed to back the other down for hook shots possession after possession. Both Powell and Domineck had eight points in the first nine minutes.
With two and a half minutes to go in the first half, Cumberland held an eight-point advantage, but UPIKE went on a quick 7-2 run to enter the half only down three.
However, Cumberland went for the haymaker punch early after halftime, going on a 13-4 run to lead 47-35 with 17 minutes left. But then Domineck and Perrin took back over scoring eight of UPIKE’s next 10 points to get it back within six.
Cumberland was able to build its lead back up to 10 points later, and UPIKE’s usual suspects found their groove and took over. At one point, Jayvian Delacruz went on a 7-0 run by himself to make it a one possession game.
Jovontae Carleton hit a 3-pointer with six minutes left to give UPIKE its first lead at 65-63 since the score was 22-21 late in the first half. That ignited a 10-0 run by the Bears and UPIKE never looked back. Cumberland never got back within five points for the rest of the game.
With the win and other results around the Mid-South conference this weekend, the Bears will hold a two-game cushion over the winner of Campbellsville and Cumberlands (Ky.) on Monday with three games remaining. UPIKE is also still just one game back from Georgetown for first place.
UPIKE will have another mid-week chance at a revenge win on Thursday when the Bears host Shawnee State. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. at the East Kentucky Expo Center.