The Phoenix (2-2) led 42-38 at the half, but Ollie Felps and Middleton combined for the first nine points of the second half and Michael Middleton’s 3-pointer along with a layup by Ryan Williams put the Ambassadors ahead, 52-44, with 14:28 remaining in the contest.
From there it was an uphill struggle for Cumberland, but a 3-pointer by Andrew Rogan, who finished with 19 points, and a tip-in from Rodney Culver kept the Phoenix close. Talik Talton’s baseline dunk pushed the Oakwood lead back to five, but Diondrey Holt, Jr., found the range with two straight buckets as well as one free throw for CU.
Charles Sweatt-Washington’s layup at the 10:01 mark made it a five-point game, but a field goal and four consecutive free throws by Felps pushed the Ambassadors advantage back to eight with 7:49 to play. Cumberland put together a 9-1 spurt over the next two-plus minutes, with Holt, Jr., netting five points and layups by Reid Pierce and Rogan cutting the deficit to 70-69, but that was as close as the visitors would get.
Simeon Middleton’s deep 3-pointer from the wing stemmed the tide for Oakwood. He added two more layups over the next 90 seconds and Michael Middleton connected on two foul shots, stretching the lead back to 79-73. Felps added one more triple, this one a dagger in the corner, essentially ending the comeback changes for Cumberland.
Felps recorded a game-high 21 points and Simone Middleton finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Michael Middleton added 13 points off the bench for Oakwood.
Holt, Jr., led the Phoenix with 20 points but Cumberland made just 5-of-19 from 3-point range and was unable to stop the Ambassadors from driving to the basket in the second half.
Oakwood jumped out to a 6-2 advantage in the first three minutes of the contest thanks to a pair of layups by DeSham Hotobah-During, but a 3-pointer and a layup by Rogan and then a triple from Rhyan Townes cut the deficit to 11-10.
Rogan was fouled on a 3-pointer from the wing and made all three free throws, giving CU a 13-11 edge at the 15:34 mark of the opening half. Blake Johnson’s runner increased the lead to 15-12 and layups by Pierce and Will Shelton made it a seven-point advantage for the Phoenix.
Hotobah-During’s layup and then one foul shot plus a 3-pointer from Felps and two free throws by Simeon Middleton were part of an 8-0 Oakwood spurt, giving the home team a 20-19 edge midway through the period.
The teams traded buckets before Holt, Jr., hit two straight shots and layups by Juandrico Walker and Rogan expanded the CU lead to 29-22. Trenton Perry’s triple from the corner made it 37-28 Phoenix with 2:39 left in the half, but the Ambassadors scored 10 of the last 15 points of the period.
Six of the 10 points came at the foul line and the Ambassadors ended the half on an emphatic note. With 3.1 seconds remaining Felps received a long pass in the corner and missed an 18-footer, but Hotobah-During’s one-handed putback slam sent the crowd into a frenzy as the team’s headed to the locker room.
Rogan led all scorers with 12 points but made just 1-of-8 from behind the arc while Perry and Johnson each netted six points off the bench. Hotobah-During recorded nine points and Felps collected seven for Oakwood. The teams combined for 20 turnovers and 23 points off those miscues but Cumberland remained in the lead, 42-38.
Cumberland will head to Freed-Hardeman for a 3 p.m. tip-off on Saturday and return home next Thursday, playing host to 16th-ranked William Carey at 7 p.m.