Liberty ends UMBC's Big South home streak, 75-64

February 06, 1994|By Bill Tanton | Bill Tanton,Sun Staff Writer

UMBC is not having much of a basketball season, with one notable exception.

When the Retrievers play in their field house, they've been tough. They were 4-0 at home in Big South Conference games before last night's match with Liberty.

But even the home court failed UMBC (5-13, 4-10), as Liberty pulled away in the game's last 10 minutes and won, 75-64. It was the third straight Big South win for Liberty (10-9, 7-4).

Liberty coach Jeff Myer seemed relieved to get the win.

"We hadn't been playing consistently, and UMBC is good at home," Myer said. "This is a tough place to play.

"When we played them at our place, we didn't get a single offensive rebound. They had 25. Tonight we had 15 and they had 14."

High scorer for the game was Liberty's Matt Hildebrand with 25 points. His 6-foot-9 teammate, Jason Dixon, had 19.

Top scorer for UMBC was Skip Saunders with 14.

"It was a hard-fought game," said UMBC coach Earl Hawkins, "but Liberty executed better than we did at strategic points. We didn't lose for a lack of effort, though.

"We can't afford to lose any more games at home. We have to beat Radford here Monday night."

For much of the first half, it looked as if the home team would get blown out.

Liberty, which beat UMBC, 89-79, in Lynchburg, Va., Jan. 8, pulled away in the first seven minutes of this game. Dixon hit a jumper from six feet to give the Flames a 21-12 lead. A monster jam by Dixon a minute later gave Liberty a 24-14 lead.

That's when UMBC began to scratch and claw its way back.

Kevin Bellinger made two baskets and Skip Saunders, who has been slowed for two weeks because of a knee injury, made a three-pointer to get UMBC within 28-23.

With four minutes left in the half, Marc Lay drove the lane and made it 35-33.

The hard-played half ended in spectacular fashion, when Spencer Ferguson, a 5-11 senior guard, made a 20-footer for three points and a 39-38 UMBC lead at the buzzer. It was the first time the home team had led.

The Retrievers were still hot when they came out for the second half.

Saunders hit a three-pointer to make it 42-38, then hit another to give UMBC a 45-41 lead.

But the Flames got two field goals from 6-10 freshman Peter Aluma of Nigeria, and Dixon hit two key shots and Liberty began

moving away.

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