LAKE WALES, Fla. – When Macari Brooks got loose for back-to-back dunks late in the action, it was a sigh of relief for top-ranked University of Pikeville as it escaped Warner 73-66 on Saturday.
The Bears had led by as many as 19 points in the first half on a Colt Chapman jumper before the Royals, ranked 13th in NAIA Div. II, went on a 10-0 run to get back in the game.
Using a 17-5 start to the second half, Warner eventually grabbed its first lead of the game at 47-45 with 12 minutes to play on a jumper from Warren Hall. The outlook got even drearier from there for UPIKE as the Royals added four more unanswered points before hitting a cold spell of their own.
Warner led 51-45 with 11:17 on the clock, but scored just two points over the next six minutes as the Bears went on a 12-2 spurt that gave them the lead for good.
The escape wasn’t effortless as the Royals trimmed their deficit to two with just over two minutes to play. Enter Chapman, who arguably had the play of the game, going strong to the basket for an old-fashioned 3-point play to put the Bears up by five and the lead grew from there.
By the time Brooks converted his two fast-break dunks the pressure was all but gone as the Bears stormed ahead by nine.
Notwithstanding the Royals’ brief second-half frenzy, UPIKE shot much better from the field at 50-36 percent. K.K. Simmons played a role in that, going 5 for 8 from behind the arc to lead the Bears with 18 points. Brooks backed him up with 17 points and a game-high nine rebounds.
UPIKE needed the hot shooting as it lost the turnover battle 19-14, but luckily made seven threes, compared to just 2 of 24 by Warner.