Cumberland Overpowers Lubbock Christian, 63-61

Cumberland Overpowers Lubbock Christian, 63-61
FRANKFORT, Ky. - (Box Score | Postgame Coach Comments) - Mid-South Conference champion Cumberland (Tenn.) was the final team to punch a ticket to the 33rd annual NAIA Division I Women's Basketball Championship Fab Four with a 63-61 upset of Lubbock Christian (Texas) Saturday night. The win runs the Bulldogs' record in the Frankfort Convention Center to 6-0 after sweeping through the MSC championship in the building March 1-3.

Cumberland (33-2), located in Lebanon, Tenn., is the third Tennessee team to advance to the NAIA Fab Four and will meet Lee (33-2) of Cleveland, Tenn., Monday night at 8 p.m. EDT. The other semifinal will tip off at 6 p.m. EDT, featuring top-ranked Freed-Hardeman (34-1) from Henderson, Tenn., and Westmont (28-4) from Santa Barbara, Calif.

None of the four have ever won an NAIA women's basketball national title. The closest was Cumberland finishing runner up in 2007, its only semifinal appearance.

Saturday night's battle proved to be the highest-scoring game in the quarterfinals, and one of the most intense of the tournament, featuring 18 lead changes and six ties.

Lubbock and Cumberland traded baskets for the first 10 minutes of the game until Cumberland's Josette Campbell hit a 3 off a steal from Casie Cowan to start a 9-2 run to go up by eight, 27-19, with 7:17 to play in the opening half. LCU senior post player Kelsey Canavan cut the game to four, 34-30, to enter halftime and finished the half with 10 points.

Canavan was unstoppable in the paint for the Lady Chaps as she eclipsed the 1,000 career point mark. For the first time this season, the senior scored 20-plus in back-to-back games, leading Lubbock Christian with 24 points to follow her 21-point effort in the second round. She finishes her two-year career with 1,006 points.

To start the second half, Courtney Wilson and Canavan teamed up to score seven of the first nine points to regain a Lubbock lead, 37-36. It was the first of 10 lead changes in the half. Briannica Tye hit the first 3 of the half to boost Cumberland to a five-point advantage, 43-38, but the Bulldogs were unable to breakaway.

After a series of lead shifts, Campbell hit her third 3-pointer of the game with a minute remaining to give Cumberland a two-point lead, 60-58, and ended a two minute stretch that featured five lead changes. Kelsey Hopel hit a 3 for Lubbock after Jessica Pace sank two free throws to pull within a point, 62-61, but Campbell was able to rattle in 1-of-2 charity shots with 22 seconds left to seal the win. The Bulldogs held Lubbock to one shot, a miss by Canavan, to end the game.

Pace and Campbell led Cumberland with 16 points each, while Pace added 10 rebounds for a double-double. London Elie, the only Cumberland player with previous NAIA Tournament experience, scored 12 points and had eight rebounds.

Haley Burton followed Canavan's lead with 12 points and Courtney Wilson had 10 for the Lady Chaps. Nicole Hampton, who had a triple double in the first round, was held to six points.

Lubbock, which leads the NAIA in field goal percentage offense, shot 52.2 percent from the floor, the only Cumberland opponent to shoot 50 percent or better this season.

LCU ends its season with a 31-4 record after winning its first Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament championship to earn an automatic bid to the its 10th consecutive NAIA DI Women's Championship. LCU's quarterfinal appearance was its sixth in the past seven seasons, a run that began with a runner-up finish in 2006.

Cumberland (Tenn.) head coach Jeremy Lewis

Championship Information

NAIA DI Women's Basketball Championship

March 18-24, 2020
Billings, Mont.