MONTREAT, N.C. – A 26-3 start in the second half helped second-ranked UPIKE take control at Montreat in a game that it led by only three points at halftime. The Bears finished with a 109-81 win as the Cavaliers went from 55.6 percent shooting in the first half, down to 30.3 in the second half of the NAIA men’s basketball game on Saturday.
Montreat (1-4) was unconscious from behind the arc in the first half, connecting on 9-of-11 shots, but cooled down in the final 20 minutes hitting only 6 of 20.
As the Cavs cooled down, the Bears (9-0) heated up, knocking down 57.1 percent of its shots from the field and three of its four 3-point attempts. UPIKE’s biggest advantage came in the paint where it dominated 54-18, along with a 61-34 lead in bench scoring.
Uzonna Akazi and Marshall Bennett, two players who came in off the bench, led the Bears’ dominance in the paint with 17 points each, while Akazi also led the Bears with six rebounds. Overall, UPIKE led the battle of the boards 43-31.
Montreat’s Amir Davis and Frank Swift led all scorers with 21 points each as they both knocked down a game-high four 3-pointers.
UPIKE jumped out to a 6-0 lead on a three from Macari Brooks, but were tied at 17 nine minutes later. There was some brief breathing room at 49-40 in the final three minutes of the half, but the Cavs rattled off an 8-0 run to get within one in the final minute.
For all the good vibes Montreat had going, it all fell apart in the final 20 minutes as the Bears went on an 18-0 run early in the half. The lead reached as many as 34 points at 93-59 as the Cavs kept hoisting up threes with little success.
K.K. Simmons chipped in with 15 points and eight assists and Trey Rakes continued his solid play with 14 points, three steals and two assists.
The Bears won’t return to action until 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5 at Cincinnati-Clermont.