WILLIAMSBURG — Thursday night, this was what Tyrone Shelley paid for in time and sweat.
With first place in the Mid-South Conference at stake, Shelley knocked down a pair of three-pointers to unleash a 13-0 knockout punch that carried Georgetown to a 78-71 victory over the University of the Cumberlands.
With less than six minutes left, Cumberlands held a 56-54 lead.
Shelley, a 6-foot-6 junior, put the Tigers ahead with a three from the right wing.
After a turnover, a Vincent Crutcher tip-in and a Shelley block, another Shelley trey made it 62-56 with 4:17 left.
"Hard work and dedication. That's all we put in the whole year, ever since Sept. 15 when we started this," Shelley said.
When asked whether he was shy about putting up a big shot, Shelley said, "Not at all. That's what I stayed in the gym afterward for, to hit big shots for our team, come out (and) get a big victory."
Cumberlands added three more turnovers and a missed shot before scoring again. By then, the Patriots trailed by 11 with less than two minutes left in the O. Wayne Rollins Center.
Eddie Gray followed Shelley's three-pointer with a drive through traffic at one second left on the shot clock.
Next trip, Gray put up a three-point try with the shot clock again at :01. It missed, but Johonne Hamilton grabbed the rebound, leading to a pair of Vincent Crutcher free throws. Gray later added another free throw.
Georgetown scored its last 14 points at the free-throw line, going 20-for-26 overall.
The eighth-ranked Tigers (24-3, 13-2) also handled Cumberlands on Jan. 22, 65-45 at Georgetown.
Like Georgetown, No. 18 Cumberlands (15-9, 11-4) has three MSC games to play. The Patriots had won eight in a row since their first loss to Georgetown.
Georgetown Coach Happy Osborne acknowledged the improvements made by Cumberlands, adding that Donnie Butcher has "got my vote for coach of the year; he's earned it."
Shelley, a transfer from San Diego State, led the winners with 25 points, going 5-for-8 from three-point range.
Vic Moses just missed a double-double, getting 12 points and nine rebounds. Hamilton and Matt Walls came off the bench to score 10 each.
Osborne credited one of his assistants with an assist.
"Andre Mahorn talked me into playing Johonne and Eddie together, and I think that was huge," Osborne said. "Andre Morris' play off the bench, along with Johonne, was huge. The last five or six minutes, I thought Crutcher and Eddie Gray and those guys' will to win was huge, and that's hopefully what gives us a chance down the road."
Jared Cunningham paced the Patriots with 20 points and six rebounds. Matt Daniel added 14 points, Kenny Cowser Jr. had 11 points and six boards, and Anthony Snell had 10 points.
"They're hard to guard, no doubt, and they hit some really big shots," Butcher said of Georgetown. "Shelley made two back-to-back threes. And give credit to Johonne Hamilton, who's not shot it very well. He made two threes."
In addition to a 20-5 advantage in free throws, Georgetown enjoyed a 28-13 bonus in points off turnovers. The Tigers committed 10 turnovers, while forcing 19.
The Tigers built a 17-7 lead on Hamilton's floater across the lane with 11:42 left in the first half.
A 10-0 Cumberlands run, sparked by a pair of Daniel three-pointers, put the Patriots on top 19-18.
Walls' steal and layup with 5:01 left gave Georgetown a 22-21 edge, a lead the Tigers never lost en route to a 32-27 halftime break.
Moses and Shelley had 10 first-half points for the Tigers.
Daniel and Cunningham led the Patriots with eight points each.
Cumberlands opened the second half with a 7-0 run and took a 39-34 lead when Cunningham converted a three-point play with 15:06 left.