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No. 3 UPike handles Life 119-106 on Saturday

PIKEVILLE, Ky. – Seven players reached double figures scoring for the third-ranked University of Pikeville men’s basketball team to win a high-scoring contest against Life (Ga.) 119-106 on Saturday at the East Ky. Expo Center.

Keala King led the Bears with 22 points, seven assists and pulled down seven rebounds, while Bruce Reed, Chris Cantino and Kenny Manigault all added double-doubles. Reed finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds, Cantino talled 20 and 13 and Manigault finished with 14 and 10.

After a slow start, the Bears (19-2) ended up shooting 52.8 percent from the field, led by a 7-of-10 showing from King. John Nunnally added three 3-pointers, giving him eight over the last two games.

The backcourt duo of Josh Whitaker and Elisha Justice joined that bunch in double figures scoring with 16 and 11 points, respectively.

Caleb Hayes paced Life (14-10) with 22 points and Philip Jenkins added 20 points and a team-best six rebounds in the loss.

The 106 points scored by Life were the most by a UPIKE opponent this season, but the Bears were 13-points better to avenge a loss on the Running Eagles’ home court in November.

With the teams shooting similar percentages from the field, getting to the free throw line mattered. UPIKE excelled in that area, hitting 36-of-48 shots, compared to 17-of-20 by Life. The Bears also posted a 55-31 rebounding advantage, helping offset 21 turnovers.

The game was tied once at 2-2 and Life cut UPIKE’s lead to one at 13-12 five minutes in, but the majority of the game belonged to the Bears who never trailed. Nine minutes into the first half UPIKE was up 10 at 28-18 on a three from Whitaker and reached 20 on two King free throws with 1:29 until halftime.

Pikeville led 61-44 at the break and led by as many as 17 points at 85-68 with 12 minutes to play on two freebies from Reed. Getting a second wind, Life outscored UPIKE 22-12 over the next five minutes to cut the deficit to seven. After Jonathan Tinch buried a jumper in the paint, the Running Eagles had sliced the lead to just six.

The Bears responded with a 4-0 run started by a put back from Cantin, gaining enough momentum to hold off Life the rest of the way while increasing their lead to 15 with a 10-2 run over the final three minutes.

Pikeville returns with Mid-South Conference play at Cumberland in Lebanon, Tenn., on Thursday. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET.

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