Free throws may not be the most fun part of basketball, but they were a major reason the Cincinnati Bearcats defeated the Wichita State Shockers 66-55 at Charles Koch Arena on Saturday afternoon.
UC (16-3, 5-1 American Athletic Conference) took 35 shots at the foul line and made 25 of them. Perhaps the most critical ones came during a rather bizarre stretch late in the second half. With a bit more than five minutes to play, the Shockers were assessed for two technical fouls after Jarron Cumberland was fouled driving to the basket. Justin Jenifer went to the line and calmly sank the four technical free throws and Cumberland added the two he was scheduled to take for the original foul. The six-point possession gave the Bearcats some breathing room and they were able to hold on from there.
They needed each and every one of the points they got at the free throw line because they only shot 39.1 percent from the field overall. Cumberland didn’t have his shot working like usual, but he still managed to score a team-high 18 points on 5-of-17 from the floor and 6-of-10 at the charity stripe. Jenifer added 17 points of his own and Keith Williams juked and jabbed his way to 14 points.
Trevon Scott and Nysier Brooks only combined for 13 points in the frontcourt, but they also produced 20 rebounds as a tandem, with each collecting 10. That went a long way in giving the Bearcats a 36-24 edge on the glass. (Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect two corrections. The original draft said Scott had 11 rebounds and that the Bearcats had a 32-21 edge on the glass. We apologize for the errors.)
Winners of four-straight, the Bearcats will play their next game on Thursday at Fifth Third Arena against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, a team they beat 70-65 in overtime a little more than a week ago.