Men's Basketball

Mid-South finals: Cumberlands edges Georgetown 60-54

FRANKFORT — Defying the odds, the Cumberlands men did exactly what the Cumberlands women did a few hours earlier Sunday:

Cut down the Frankfort Convention Center nets to celebrate a Mid-South Conference Tournament title.

Cumberlands edged two-time defending champion Georgetown 60-54, playing its way into the NAIA nationals that will be played March 14-20 at Kansas City, Mo. No. 12 Georgetown is certain to receive an at-large bid.

The fifth-seeded Patriots (20-11) became the lowest seed to win the MSC tourney since doing so as a No. 6 seed in 1998.

Cumberlands beat top-seeded Lindsey Wilson in Saturday's semifinals.

Last year, the Tigers routed the Patriots in the semifinals.

"They beat us (by) 35 — and made us like it," said Cumberlands Coach Donnie Butcher, a Georgetown grad. "We couldn't do anything about it. Our guys have come a long way this year. ... They put their heart and their soul in this season, so you always like to see them be rewarded with getting a chance to continue to play on."

Matt Daniel led the way with 17 points, going 4-for-6 from three-point range.

"It means so much," said Daniel, a 6-foot-4 senior. "We won it (in 2009) and it's all I've thought about ever since. Just getting back and getting a chance to beat Georgetown, who has so much tradition, it means so much."

Benito Santiago Jr. and Steve Goins each added nine points and five rebounds. Patrico Leadon had six rebounds and four points.

Zavion Neely had eight points, including a free throw with 11.9 seconds left, to push Cumberlands' lead to 58-54.

"Just stepping up as a senior," Neely said. "This was a big win for our team, for our seniors, everybody."

Second-seeded Georgetown, which swept two regular-season games from the Patriots, lost at the foul line.

After going 32-for-36 Saturday, the Tigers shot 9-for-25.

They also played minus leading scorer and rebound Maurice Pearson.

"We thought we were going to have him until warmups, so we didn't really have a lot of time to prepare without him," Georgetown Coach Chris Briggs said. "But that's no excuse. That team there played their tails off. They played like a team that's fighting for their life and they just beat us. They outworked us the entire game.

"We kept finding ways to stay in it, but when you shoot like that from the foul line, you're not going to win very many games."

Pearson suffered a right knee injury and will see a doctor first thing Monday. Briggs said he was unsure of the severity of the injury but was told it is not an ACL injury.

Garel Craig led Georgetown scorers with 15, followed by 6-8 Josh Lockett with 12 and Johonne Hamilton with 11. Jordan DeMercy chipped in with nine points and a game-high 14 rebounds.

Cumberlands led all the way, including 32-23 at intermission, but never by more than 10 points.

"I think our team showed a lot of intestinal fortitude," Butcher said. "They made a run at us. We got a basket or two to kind of stem the tide. A lot of senior leadership."

The lead was 48-46 with under five minutes left.

Goins made a free throw and Santiago scored the next five points for a 54-46 lead.

Georgetown twice cut the deficit to three, the last time when Craig made two free throws at :45.4.