UMBC springs 85-67 upset on Campbell Retrievers advance to Big South semifinal

March 05, 1993|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Staff Writer

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- They're not going to win the 20 games that coach Earl Hawkins challenged them to reach, but two more efforts like the one the Retrievers had yesterday and UMBC could be in its first NCAA tournament.

UMBC, seeded sixth in its first Big South Conference tournament, routed Campbell, 85-67, in the quarterfinals. The Retrievers will play Coastal Carolina -- a 79-66 winner over Charleston Southern -- in tonight's semifinals at 8, with the winner moving into tomorrow's championship.

UMBC (12-15) lost its top player in early November and was 4-9 after blowing a five-point lead and losing at home to Campbell (12-15) on Jan. 20. The Retrievers have won five of their past seven, however, and they dictated a faster pace and nearly everything else they wanted against the defending tournament champions.

Earlier in the week, guard Dana Harris said the Retrievers would "be ornerier than anyone else" here, and that nastiness was honed over the past two mornings. The Retrievers were housed too close to an airport runway and changed hotels Wednesday, and yesterday UMBC and last-place UNC-Asheville were the only teams without any players recognized when the all-conference team was announced.

"That [the all-conference announcement] wasn't mentioned before the game, but every little bit helps," Hawkins said. "We have the type of system that hurts the chances of one individual getting singled out. We've been playing well down the stretch, and everyone was ready."

The credit was spread around yesterday.

It was the fourth basketball game played in the nearly empty, 12,400-seat North Charleston Coliseum, which opened in late January. Some coaches said the distant background would hurt perimeter shooters, and Campbell, fifth in the nation in three-pointers, was 6-for-26, making just one more three than UMBC junior guard Skip Saunders.

Saunders, who made six of seven threes at the Carrier Dome in December, was 3-for-4 in the first half and 2-6 in the second half for a game-high 26 points. The Retrievers had a 12-2 lead after five minutes, and they never trailed after Saunders' three broke a 16-16 tie with 8:28 left in the first half.

The lead was 57-34 before Campbell all-conference forward Joe Spinks got his second basket, with 10:58 left. He rallied for team-high totals of 15 points and 10 rebounds, but UMBC's Brian Watkins, with nine points, 10 rebounds, four steals and three assists, won the matchup.

Spinks had seven points during a 9-0 spurt that cut the difference to 11, but Harris beat the Camels' pressure and fouls to score 10 of his career-high 19 in the final 2:48. He also had seven assists, and he and third guard Spencer Ferguson forced Campbell into 16 turnovers.

UMBC didn't shoot a free throw in the first 30 minutes, but the officials' loose approach didn't bother Hawkins. He wanted a physical game, and although junior center Sonique Nixon had 12 points and two rebounds, he kept shooters away from the basket and helped deny the backdoor cuts that burned UMBC in its two earlier losses to the Camels.

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