Central Christian College needed a win like they needed air to breathe.
After setting a school record for consecutive wins, the Tigers dropped two in a row and were in danger of dropping their third straight Thursday night at Jerry E. Alexander Arena.
But a late second half surge and major production from the bench pushed the Tigers past visiting Haskell, 77-72, to improve to 21-7 and 13-2 at home. Ernest Burton led the team in scoring with 18 points off the bench, while Steve Kuminga dropped 14 also off the bench.
“I’m glad to get out of here with a win,” head coach Tony Romero said. “Our guys found a way. We made some plays down the stretch to get us going. Our bench was huge tonight.”
Michael Gholston drilled back to back 3-pointers to give the Tigers an early lead, but Haskell answered with a 15-6 run. Kuminga and Burton followed the Haskell run with 3-pointers the next two trips down the court, and the Tigers took back the lead the following possession at the halfway mark of the first half.
A 20-8 run by Haskell was answered with an 11-4 run by CCC to close the half. Sam Clayborn hit a layup with five seconds to cut the Haskell lead to 43-41 at intermission.
The energy and focus was much better in the second half for the Tigers, but Haskell was there to answer back at every turn. It wasn’t until the 8:30 mark the Tigers were able to slightly pull away.
A Clayborn bucket gave the Tigers their largest lead of the game at eight, but it was short lived.
Haskell went on a 10-2 run to tie the game with about four minutes remaining. The Tigers did not make a field goal in the final 2:11 of the game, but timely free throws gave them all the offense they needed to hang on.
Down by three, Haskell had a chance to tie the game with under 30 seconds remaining, but the Tigers came up huge on defense and forced a turnover. Clayborn and Burton both made a pair of free throws in the final moments to put the game on ice.
Burton was 6 of 9 from the field, including 4 of 7 from beyond the arc. Kuminga was even more lethal, knocking down 6 of 7 shots and both 3-pointers he attempted. Clayborn pitched in with 16 points and Gholston added 13.
The Tigers are back home on Saturday on senior night when they host College of the Ozarks. College of the Ozarks was the team to snap the Tigers’ 12 game winning streak last Saturday. Game time is scheduled for 5 p.m.
QUICK HIT: CCC women 54, Haskell 91
The Haskell University women had an advantage inside, and they were ready to take full advantage.
The Indians outscored CCC 62-11 in the paint en route to an easy 91-54 victory Thursday night. Haskell led 50-28 at halftime and did a good job of not letting up in the second half.
The Tigers had solid offensive production from a few players, but were led by Kelsey Grimaldo’s 20 points. The sharpshooter had the green light, taking 16 3-pointers but only made five of them.
Abbie Banks and Micah Redenbaugh each pitched in with 10 points. Rebeka Glessner was a point shy of a double-double, finishing with nine points and 10 rebounds — seven of them offensive rebounds.
Central was just 16 of 61 for 26 percent from the field. They shot 43 3-pointers, only making 10 of them.
CCC is back in action on Saturday when they host College of the Ozarks. Senior night tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.