Men's Basketball

No. 5 Georgetown hold off Cumberlands 75-73

WILLIAMSBURG — All's well that ends well.

That's how Chris Briggs felt after his Georgetown Tigers survived a 40-minute drama Thursday night by edging Cumberlands 75-73 in the O. Wayne Rollins Center.

"We struggled a little bit late," Briggs said after Cumberlands nearly overcame a 12-point deficit in the last six minutes. "I wish we would have pushed it out a little further. But that's a good team. They fought hard.

"I'm proud of our guys for sticking with it and toughing it out. We need close wins like that. Those wins will make you better."

The fifth-ranked Tigers (15-2) strengthened their grip on first place in the Mid-South Conference, improving to 6-0.

Cumberlands (9-6, 2-3) lost its fifth game in a row; it hasn't won since Dec. 5.

Maurice Pearson, a 6-foot-9 senior, topped Georgetown with 17 points and seven rebounds. Garel Craig and Johonne Hamilton scored 14 points each, and Tyrone Shelley totaled 13 points and eight rebounds.

Hamilton added seven assists and three steals, saving his best for last.

Cumberlands whittled its 12-point deficit to three, 70-67, when Matt Daniel scored on a fast break with 1:57 left.

Hamilton answered for the Tigers, driving to his right, splitting the defense and laying the ball in at 1:24.

Daniel came back with a four-point play, draining a three-point shot while getting fouled with 39.7 seconds left.

Hamilton, making his first trip to the free-throw line, hit two free throws with 38 seconds left.

Daniel tried for another three, but missed everything. That led to a pair of Craig free throws with 10 seconds left.

The Patriots' final points came at the free-throw line with three-tenths of a second left.

Georgetown finished 20-for-27 at the free-throw line; Cumberlands went 14-for-26.

Zavion Neely, a 6-1 senior, led Cumberlands with 23 points and six assists. Daniel finished with 18 points. Benito Santiago Jr. added 13 points and seven rebounds, sharing the team lead in the latter category with Markeith Cungious. Aaron Watts scored 11 points.

Georgetown raced to an early 10-point lead, 14-4, as Cumberlands turned the ball over on seven of its first 11 possessions.

The Patriots rallied, though, to close within 32-30 late in the half.

Georgetown got a three-pointer from Shelley to lead 35-30 at intermission.

The Tigers pushed ahead 66-54 when Shelley sank three free throws with 6:05 left.

At that point, Georgetown was 15-for-17 from the line.

However, the Tigers missed four of their next six chances, including the front end of a pair of one-and-ones.

Neely, Daniel and Santiago combined for the Patriots' final 21 points, a rally that came up just short.

The teams will meet again Feb. 16 at Georgetown.