UMBC makes run at Campbell, but falls again, 83-72

February 22, 1994|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Staff Writer

The game followed a familiar pattern for UMBC.

Fall far behind. Then make an offensive run that titillates the fans but comes up empty.

It was more of the same for the Retrievers last night at the UMBC Fieldhouse, where Campbell rebounded from Saturday's loss at Towson State for an 83-72 Big South Conference victory.

The victory kept Campbell (17-7, 12-4) in contention for the regular-season championship and top seed in the conference tournament.

The loss was the eighth in a row for the Retrievers, who must win one of their two remaining games -- both on the road -- to avoid the tournament play-in contest between the eighth and ninth seeds.

UMBC (5-19, 4-12) was reeling from a three-point assault by the Fighting Camels (8-for-11 in the first half) and trailed 62-40 with 12 minutes remaining in the game.

"We're not a talented team. We have to play smart and hard and make the necessary plays," said Retrievers coach Earl Hawkins. "We don't have one person who can score 35 a game, so if we don't execute, we're in trouble.

"Our transition defense was not good in the first half and we dug ourselves a big hole."

One of the three seniors appearing in his final home game, Skip Saunders, nearly shot the Retrievers

out of their crevice.

He scored 10 of the team's next 12 points and 13 of the next 17 to shave the deficit to 68-59 with slightly less than four minutes to go.

But the rally stopped there as Saunders rarely handled the ball the rest of the way and the Camels scored 13 of their final 15 points from the free-throw line and safely held off the rush.

"We played very good basketball the first half," said Campbell coach Billy Lee. "But the second half we couldn't guard my aunt Fannie's pig and took a lot of poor shots.

"But give them [UMBC] credit. Most teams in the situation they were in would have folded, but they kept coming."

Lee's team has beaten both North Carolina State and South Carolina in overtime on the road, but the coach said "we just weren't sharp at Towson. That was a disappointing game. We had to have this one."

The win keeps Campbell in third place, a game behind first-place Towson and a half-game behind Radford.

Forward Joe Spinks, the probable conference Player of the Year, led the Camels as usual, notching 25 points and eight rebounds, and guard Scott Neely had 19 points, including 10 of 10 at the foul line.

UMBC played without senior guard, Spencer Ferguson, who sprained an ankle against UNC-Greensboro on Saturday. He is out indefinitely. Hawkins said Ferguson might have made a difference against Campbell's long-range shooters because "he plays tough defense on the perimeter. Some of that stuff they hit in the first half may not have been there."

He said he expects to win at UNC-Asheville and Winthrop, the teams behind UMBC in the standings "but I don't think there is anybody on paper we should out and out beat right now. We need to win because you don't want to play any more games than you have to at this point."

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