PIKEVILLE, Ky. -- After it looked like UPIKE would drive to an easy victory on Saturday, it eventually took a couple clutch plays in the final seconds for the Bears to defeat No. 19 Cumberlands (Ky.), 64-63.
UPIKE had led by as much as 15 in the first half, but the Patriots carried a 15-2 run through the end of the first half into the second to take its first lead of the game at 34-32. The teams would trade leads throughout the second half to set the stage for the final minute.
After Jayvian Delacruz hit a layup to give the Bears a one-point lead, UPIKE forced a turnover a couple of possessions later. On UPIKE’s next possessions, Delacruz took the ball in the corner and curled around a screen to hit a clutch three-pointer from the top of the key to give the Bears a huge two-possession lead.
The Bears played good defense on the next trip down the floor, forcing Cumberlands to waste time it needed, until Travon LaBranche hit a three-pointer of his own to erase Delacruz’s. After a Bears timeout, UPIKE drew up a play to hit a runner dashing upcourt with a Hail Mary pass. That inbounds pass came up short and Cumberlands stole the ball with the chance to win.
However, the Patriots moved a bit too quickly as Chase Parsley was able to pick Jahi Hinson’s pocket and the ball rolled around until the final whistle.
Delacruz once again led the Bears with 20 points and six rebounds, but Luke Layhew was not far behind with the scoring with 19 points and eight rebounds. Xaviar Gaona added 10 points for Pikeville.
The Bears are now 15-3 overall and will try to get to 3-1 in the Mid-South in the rubber game of this three-game homestand against Cumberland (Tenn.) on Thursday. The men’s game is set to tip at 8 p.m. at the East Kentucky Expo Center.