PIKEVILLE, Ky. — It wasn’t pretty, but it was a good early test as the 19th-ranked University of Pikeville men’s basketball team outlasted Union 77-57 with the help of a 50-percent showing from long distance and a sizable advantage from the free-throw line on Tuesday.
Desmond Medder led all scorers with 15 points, including going 9-for-10 from the stripe. Darrion Leslie added 14 points and Richard Freeman paced the Bears with seven rebounds.
Union (2-3) was led by Gerrard Newby and Paul Stone with 12 points each.
UPIKE (6-0) came out firing on all cylinders as it took a 13-2 lead in the first four minutes with the help of threes from Leslie and Culbreath, as well as two free throws following an early technical foul on the Bulldog bench.
Union eventually calmed things down on its end and ended up outscoring the Bears 18-11 over the next seven minutes to get within four. But the Bears had an ace up their sleeve after getting into the bonus early, allowing them to outscore the Bulldogs 16-7 from the strip in the half.
A pair of late 3-pointers from Bennett didn’t hurt as well as UPIKE took a 14-point lead into halftime at 43-29.
Union briefly got the deficit down to 12 with 14:09 to play, but it looked like the Bears simply had too much left in the tank as they raised the lead to 22 points with a quick 10-0 run.
Not a lot changed over the final eight minutes as UPIKE continued to lead the game by 20 or more points with the free-throw advantage coming back into play. By game’s end, the Bears had outscored Union 29-18 from the stripe.
UPIKE’s other big advantage came from its depth as the Bears’ bench outscored the Bulldogs’ 31-18 with the help of Culbreath and Bennett scoring 12 and 10 points, respectively.
While the teams both shot in the low 40’s from the field, UPIKE was hot from long distance, hitting half of its shots (6-of-12).
The Bears host Carlow (Pa.) at 8 p.m. ET on Friday in the Walters Auto Classic.