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Halftime challenge ignites CU surge
Jan 28, 2007 12:00 am
The walls of Cumberland's dressing room may need a fresh coat of paint today after Coach Clint Mason ripped his Lady Bulldogs at halftime of Thursday's TranSouth Conference contest with Lyon at the Dallas Floyd Center.
After being tied at halftime, Cumberland took the Pipers apart in the second half as the No. 12 Lady Bulldogs pulled away to a 76-55 conquest.
It was even worse during the course of the first half as the Pipers, who shot .577 over the first 20 minutes, led by 10 points before the Lady Bulldogs battled back to briefly go up by one.
"It was an interesting discussion at halftime," Mason said after his Lady Bulldogs improved to 16-3 for the season and 6-2 in the TSC. "We came out overconfident, complacent, not defending the three and giving a poor defensive effort in the first half and let Lyon stay in the game because they shoot the three very well.
"Second half, I challenged my team that if they were going to compete for a TranSouth title, they had to come out and show it to me in the second half. And they responded."
By holding Lyon to 17 points and .250 shooting over the final 20 minutes as the Pipers fell to 9-10, 3-5.
"It was an extremely great defensive effort the second half," Mason said. "And when our defense is going, it makes our offense a lot easier. Only giving up 17 points in a college basketball game in a half is amazing.
"But we must decide if we're going have a shot to win this league, we're going to have to put 40 minutes together. But I was extremely happy with Tomika Hall's defensive effort, Kari Maddox's defensive effort, Ashley Cross' defensive effort. Mariel Ruis stepped up and knocked some shots down. Renae Williams knocked some shots down as she always does... Kiana Robinson had some great passes in the second half and I was really, really extremely happy with the play of Keshia Forrest, who hasn't played a lot all year, but she came on in the second half and made a lot of plays offensively and defensively."
Williams swished two of CU's seven three-pointers and all seven of her free throws on her way to a game-high 21 points while C'Kala Humes tossed in 10. Hall added eight while Forrest scored seven, Maddox six; Cross, Ruis and Isabelli Cunico five each; Robinson four, Ewa Bukowska three and Hilary Bauer two free throws.
Nikki Barker helped Lyon get off to a fast start with nine of her 14 points in the first half, including a pair of three-pointers. Alison Wilkins came off the bench to throw in three triples on her way to 13.
Wilkins' three from the top of the key opened a 30-20 Lyon lead.
But Cumberland used an 18-7 run to go up 38-37 on Cross' triple from the corner 2:33 before halftime. That would be the final Lady Bulldog points for some 6 1/2 minutes as an Ashley Waller free throw pulled the Pipers into the 38-38 halftime tie.
With the Lady Bulldogs' drought continuing at the start of the second half, Lyon went back up by five before Cumberland caught and passed the Pipers 45-44 on two free throws by Forrest with 14:35 left. The freshman from Bowling Green, Ky., followed with a three-pointer from the wing and Williams added four straight points to wrap up a game-turning 9-0 run. An 8-0 spurt shortly afterward made it 61-46.
Cross passed for seven assists and swiped three steals for the Lady Bulldogs, who outrebounded the Pipers 38-35.
Cumberland will remain home Saturday when Blue Mountain visits the Floyd Center for a 2 p.m. tipoff.
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 17 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.