Radford's Doug Day recently established the NCAA Division I record for three-point shots made and attempted. But last night at UMBC, it was Retrievers guard Skip Saunders who put on a three-point shooting exhibition.
For the second game in a row, Saunders tied a school record with seven three-pointers -- the third time he has done it in his career -- and scored a team-high 26 points, as UMBC held off Radford, 102-98, at the UMBC Fieldhouse.
It was the first win over Radford for UMBC, which had lost to the Highlanders in five previous meetings. The Retrievers (9-13, 6-7 in the Big South) won their second straight, and Radford (12-14, 6-7) lost its second straight.
It was definitely more than the Skip Saunders Show for UMBC, which had its highest-scoring game of the season in its attempt to gain some momentum going into the Big South tournament. Sophomore forward Kevin Bellinger scored a career-high 17 in just his fourth start, and junior guard Spencer Ferguson had a career-high 19 points, with three three-pointers. Center Sonique Nixon had 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
For Radford's Day, the game was one to forget. The senior guard, who was averaged 17.6 points going in, finished with four points -- just the third time in 13 Big South games this season that he failed to score in double figures. Day was two of 10 from the field, and failed to hit a three-pointer.
Going into the second half with a 57-45 lead, UMBC was cold, missing its first five shots from the field. Meanwhile, Radford went to its inside game during a 9-0 run that pulled the Highlanders within 57-54.
But, after a timeout, UMBC responded with an 11-2 run that ended with a layup by Brian Watkins, giving the Retrievers a 68-56 lead with 13:40 left.
UMBC scored its last field goal on a layup by Matt Butts that made it 88-77 with three minutes left, and ended the game making 14 of 18 free throws to hold off Radford. The Highlanders closed to within four on a layup by Brian Schmall in the final seconds, but never really threatened.
Saunders, who tied the school record with seven three-pointers against Liberty on Saturday, picked up where he left off by hitting his first three three-pointer attempts in the game's first two minutes, helping the Retrievers to a 9-5 lead.
Radford was trailing 20-15, but then the Highlanders came back. A hook shot by Don Burgess (16 first-half points) started a 9-0 run that gave the Highlanders a 24-20 lead with 10:44 left in the half.
The Retrievers, who went nearly six minutes without a field goal, regained the lead, 25-24, by hitting five straight free throws. The teams played back and forth over the next several minutes, but UMBC's three-point shooting in the last five minutes of the half -- two from Saunders and two from Ferguson -- helped UMBC to a 57-45 lead at the half.
Saunders finished the half with 17 points -- six of 10 from the field, with five three-pointers. The Retrievers shot 48.6 percent for the half -- but 53.8 percent from three-point range.