The Cumberland County College Men's Basketball team season ended a just over eight months ago to the eventual national champion, the Brookdale Jersey Blues. Saturday's date was marked on the calendar by head coach Darrin Stalling as soon as he took the position this past summer. Saturday would serve to show whether the new-look Dukes roster would be a contender in the 2018-2019 season. After falling behind by as much as 20 points in the first half, the Dukes would claw their way back to tie the game late in the second half. Unfortunately the comeback would fall short as the Dukes would take their first loss of the season to Brookdale, 71-70.
The much anticipated matchup quickly became worrisome for the Dukes as the Jersey Blues jumped out to a 17-4 lead early in the first half. Jitters and missed opportunities plagued Cumberland as the high octane offense of Brookdale overwhelmed the Dukes. However, after a few defensive adjustments made by Coach Stalling, Cumberland would recover and bring the score to a managable 41-27 score at the half. Taylor Clarke would lead the Dukes in scoring, tallying 22 points on a variety of scoring plays. Danny Williams once again provided energy, knocking down a critical set of three-pointers midway through the second half en route to 15 points on 4-7 shooting from beyond the arc. Kevin Clark left it all out on the floor with 12 points, 9 assists, 9 rebounds, and 7 steals, with a majority of the steals in clutch defensive situations. Phil Cisrow was rock solid in the paint area with 12 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 steals while contributing heavily on the defensive end.
In the final five minutes of the game, Brookdale and Cumberland traded baskets before the Dukes would tie the game up at 66 on free throws by Phil Cisrow at the 4:18 mark. The teams would trade baskets once again, tying the game at 70 with two minutes left. After a free throw by Brookdale put the Jersey Blues up by 1, Cumberland had one last shot at the win after a missed free throw by Brookdale. Kevin Clark grabbed the rebound with 10.5 seconds on the clock and took the ball the length of the court for a heavily contested lay up. Amari Rex grabbed the offensive rebound and could not convert the potential winning basket. Despite much contact, the buzzer sounded and Cumberland would suffer their first loss of the season.
Cumberland moves to 1-1 and will host Camden County on Tuesday. Tip off is set for 7 PM.