Ferguson, UMBC end skid at 9

January 16, 1994|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

UMBC senior Spencer Ferguson picked the coldest day of the year to have the hottest game of his college career.

The 5-foot-11 guard from Martinsburg, W.Va., hit nine of 12 shots to score a career-high 27 points, as the Retrievers (2-9, 1-3) broke a nine-game losing streak by beating Charleston Southern, 92-84, in a Big South Conference game yesterday at UMBC Fieldhouse.

"I've been in kind of a shooting slump the last few games," Ferguson said after the win over the Buccaneers (3-8, 1-3). "But today, everything was falling."

It was the Retrievers' first victory since their season-opening win Nov. 27 over Division III Washington College.

Unhappy with the way his veterans have performed of late, coach Earl Hawkins used his 10th different starting lineup in 11 games. Freshman guards Marc Lay and Eric Hayes joined senior captain Skip Saunders, junior forward Chris Thompson and 7-foot-2 Georgetown transfer Pascal Fleury as starters.

But Charleston Southern, which favors a run-and-gun style that has produced more than 87 points per game, used a full-court press and took advantage of the Retrievers' inexperience to jump to a 27-18 lead.

It was 21-18 when Fleury, a Quebec native who left Georgetown after playing in the shadow of Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning, was charged with a technical after he protested a foul call on a block.

The Buccaneers combined four free throws and a jump shot by junior guard Eric Burks (17 points) to gain a nine-point advantage.

"With all the frustration we've faced during this losing streak, we could have rolled over at that point," Hawkins said. "We showed some jitters early against their press, but today the guys hung together, showed some toughness, and we got good efforts from our veterans."

Ferguson, Saunders (17 points) and junior forward Kevin Bellinger (11 points, 10 rebounds) excelled, in particular. Hawkins also got a solid effort from Thompson, a Woodlawn alumnus, who contributed a career-high 11 points and eight rebounds.

But it was Ferguson who got the Retrievers' offense into gear with 13 first-half points to put UMBC ahead 42-37 at halftime.

UMBC seemed in control, leading 77-66 with a little less than four minutes left. But Charleston cut it to 77-71 on a three-pointer by freshman guard Kavante Ivery.

Saunders, who was honored before the game for surpassing the 1,000-point mark, then made his only three-pointer of the game. It was the 200th of his career and came at a propitious time, giving the Retrievers breathing room.

Another Charleston Southern freshman, Brett Larrick, provided a measure of suspense by hitting three three-pointers in the closing minutes. His last one made it 85-79 with 54 seconds left.

It should have been a lot easier for the Retrievers, who missed 23 of 52 free throws. The Buccaneers were a more respectable 23-for-35 from the line, as the teams combined for 87 foul shots, only three fewer than the record they set last season.

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