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Cumberland University's Lady Bulldogs make history
Mar 21, 2007 12:00 am
JACKSON — Cumberland University's Lady Bulldogs earned the team's first ever appearance in the NAIA Final Four Saturday with a 72-71 victory over Langston University.
"Words really can't describe how great a feeling it is," Cumberland coach Clint Mason said. "We're going to a place that Cumberland has never been in women's basketball."
The No. 3 seed Lady Bulldogs held a seven point lead with just over three minutes to go before Langston cut the lead to one twice in the final moments. Matalya McBath-Belvin drove in for a lay-up to cut it to 70-69 with 40-seconds remaining. Cumberland's Ashley Cross put her team back up by three with a pair of free throws with just 29 ticks on the clock before Langston's Teneisha McKinney hit a baseline jumper with 16 seconds to go.
"Ashley Cross was big down the stretch," Mason said. "She pushed the ball well and did a great job defending one of the best point guards in the conference."
He added the biggest difference was the toughness of the Lady Bulldogs regular season schedule.
"We play in a tougher conference and had a lot of close games which helped us prepare," Mason noted.
Kiana Robinson led Cumberland with 19 points and eight rebounds. Renae Williams added 13 points, Cross tossed in 10 and had seven assists, Keisha Forrest and Isabelli Cunico both put in eight, Tomika Hall and C'Kala Humes added five apiece and Mariel Ruis four.
McBath-Belvin fired in 24 points and JaCarie Owens added 19 for Langston.
Cumberland faces No. 1 seed Vanguard University, who defeated Trevecca Nazarene 82-56 to remain unbeaten on the season, at 6 p.m. Monday. The other semifinal, Union against Lambuth, tips off at 8 p.m.