UMBC holds off UNC-Asheville, 91-82

January 10, 1993|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Contributing Writer

For openers, the UMBC basketball team wasn't half bad.

It was the other half that nearly cost them their Big South Conference home debut last night against UNC-Asheville.

After taking a 12-point lead near halftime, sloppy ball handling and poor shooting in the second half nearly squandered the game away before the Retrievers (4-5, 1-0) rallied for a 91-82 win at UMBC Fieldhouse.

The night belonged Sonique Nixon, UMBC's 6-foot-8 center, who scored a career-high 28 points, brought in eight rebounds and had a pair of blocked shots.

Nixon, who last week was named to the Big South Honor Roll for his 42 points and 21 rebounds against Florida State and St. Francis (Pa.), picked up right where he left off, dominating in the paint and scoring 14 points in the game's first 6:20.

"I just felt good," said Nixon, adding that he was trying to make up for his sub-par, four-point performance in Wednesday's loss to Delaware. "This time I told myself to go a little harder."

UNCA's Eric Evans did everything short of handcuffing Nixon trying to deny the junior the ball, but eventually needed the help of 7-2 reserve Scott Barnes, who finally made Nixon alter his shot.

By that time, however, UMBC had drawn out to a 24-13 lead.

"Soni played very well for the first five or six minutes, but I think that hurt us," said Retrievers coach Earl Hawkins. "We got the ball in to him so easily that we forgot about running our offense."

Nixon was benched for six minutes near the end of the first half with two fouls, and played just 11 minutes the rest of the way.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs battled back from a 52-40 deficit to tie the game at 73 with 6:20 left.

But the Retrievers hit seven of nine free throws down the stretch to put the game away.

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