On Saturday, the Cumberland County College Men's Basketball team returned to the court for their first game following the holiday break. Their opponent would be the defending National Champions, Brookdale Community College Jersey Blues. Earlier in the season, the Dukes dropped a heartbreaker to the Jersey Blues, losing 71-70. In that game, Cumberland had numerous opportunities to take the game over, but failed to convert on lay-ins and free throws. This time around, Head Coach Darrin Stalling made sure the team would not let another opportunity for a big win slip away.
Both teams entered the matchup with high intensity, evidenced by the early 8-7 score, with the Dukes leading 3 minutes into the game. The teams went back and forth until midway through the half with the score knotted at 18. Cumberland would elevate the defensive intensity to lead a 10-2 run to take a 28-20 lead around the 6 minute mark in the 1st half. Sophomore guard Taylor Clarke and Freshman guard Danny Williams would lead the charge for Cumberland. Clarke would finish the game with 19 points and 4 rebounds, and Williams would follow with 15 points, 4 rebounds, and an emphatic key block that would come in the second half. Brookdale, however, would close the half strong to bring the score to 36-36 at intermission.
The second half would be a grind for the Dukes as Brookdale took the lead early in the second half, yet Cumberland never fell far behind. At the 8 minute mark of the half, Cumberland trailed the Jersey Blues 55-54, but would once again utilize their defense to jumpstart the offense. Cumberland would retake the lead and held a narrow 5-point lead heading into the final 5 minutes of regulation as the teams would trade baskets for the next three minutes of play. With just over a minute left to play, Cumberland led 72-65. Brookdale would not go quietly as they would deploy a full court press that would temporarily rattle the Dukes as the Jersey Blues would score 6 quick points to bring the score to 72-71 with just 19.7 seconds to go. However, Cumberland would regroup and stop the comeback attempt as Freshman forward Phil Cisrow and Sophomore guard Kevin Clark would knock down key free throws to bring the score to 76-71. Cisrow reeled in yet another double double scoring 16 points and hauling in 11 rebounds as Clark would lead the Dukes in scoring with 20 points, 5 assists, and 6 rebounds.
Not only would this be a signature victory in Coach Stalling's tenure thus far at Cumberland, but it would also be the first time in over 30 years that Cumberland would defeat Brookdale in men's basketball. The Dukes move to 10-3 and travel to Atlantic Cape on Tuesday evening, with tipoff scheduled for 7 PM. The Dukes defeated Atlantic Cape on December 6, 70-65.