Jarron Cumberland’s three-point play with 3.5 seconds remaining lifted Cincinnati to an 80-79 victory over Wichita State on Thursday evening.
Jaime Echenique posted his second-straight double-double, finishing with 19 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks to lead Wichita State (17-5, 5-4), which has lost back-to-back games on last-second shots. The Shockers fell five days ago in Tulsa on a three-point buzzer-beater.
Dexter Dennis added 16 points on 4-of-6 three-point shooting to go with 13 points and four assists from Jamarius Burton.
Cincinnati (15-7, 8-2) notched its fifth-straight win and – coupled with Tulsa’s loss to UConn -- moved into a first-place tie with Houston.
Cumberland scored a game-high 24 points. He was 1-for-8 from three but converted 8-of-9 from inside the arc and 5-of-6 at the line.
The lead changed hands four times in the final minute.
Dennis grabbed an offensive rebound, dribbled out to the corner and drilled a three-pointer from the right corner to give the Shockers a 76-75 advantage with 50 seconds remaining. Cumberland answered 10 seconds later with two free throws to put the Bearcats back in front, 77-76.
Grant Sherfield was nearly the hero for the Shockers, swishing a three-pointer from the left wing with 16 seconds to go to put the hosts ahead, 79-77.
Out of a timeout, Cincinnati put the ball in the hands of its senior leader. Cumberland probed the right baseline and banked in a layup while drawing contact from Dennis and Echenique. His free throw put the Bearcats ahead to stay.
Erik Stevenson’s last-gasp three missed the mark, and Cincinnati escaped.
Cincinnati shot 68.2 percent in the first half and 54.5 percent for the game – both season-highs for a Shocker opponent.
The Bearcats led 41-35 at halftime and by as many as nine points early in the second half.
WSU shot 48.5% – its best in nine conference games – but was outscored 14-5 at the foul line.
The Shockers won the battle of the boards, 31-28, helped by 12 offensive rebounds. They outscored Cincinnati 20-6 on second chance opportunities.
Down 73-67 with 5:16 to play, Wichita State rattled off six-straight points. Burton hit a jumper in the lane and a put back an offensive rebound on the next trip down. Echenique’s layup tied the game at 73 with 1:52 to play, setting up the final sequence.