PIKEVILLE, Ky. – The third-ranked University of Pikeville men’s basketball team lacked energy early, trailing 18-13 in the first half, before stepping on the gas to beat Clearwater Christian (Fla.) 103-58 on Friday at the East Ky. Expo Center.
It was the first game for UPIKE (8-1) in nearly three weeks and it took close to the entire first half to get things rolling. Chris Cantino’s basket nine minutes in put the Bears up 19-18 and they never trailed again as the lead swelled to 17 on Bruce Reed’s 3-pointer before halftime.
The Cougars shot over 42 percent from the field to stay in the game in the first half, including a pair of threes, but managed just a 31-percent clip in the second half as Pikeville pulled away.
Reed and Keala King paced the Bears with 21 points each, while Chris Cantino added 20 and Colt Chapman joined them in double figures with 13. It was a balanced rebounding effort as Cantino led the team with just six boards.
Tristan Shore matched the UPIKE leaders with 21 points for Clearwater Christian and Erik McRae added 10. Shore also pulled down six rebounds.
Pikeville was hard to beat with its hot shooting, hitting 55.4 percent from the field and 37.5 percent (9-for-24) from behind the arc. The Bears’ size advantage played a large role, outscoring the Cougars in the paint 52-22. The UPIKE bench was dominant as well, tallying a 37-7 advantage.
Using a press defense to open the second half, UPIKE didn’t have the same energy problems and had pushed its lead to 20 less than three minutes in on another three from Reed. The Bears led by at least 30 points for the last 14 minutes, including a largest lead of 47 on Dalton Cornett’s basket in the final minute.
It’s a short break for the Bears as they return to action at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday against Alice Lloyd (Ky.) at the East Ky. Expo Center.