Radford ousts UMBC, 81-78

March 05, 1994|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Sun Staff Writer

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- The entire season has been a struggle for UMBC, and last night in the quarterfinals of the Big South Tournament, the Retrievers ended a frustrating year with an inspirational, but ultimately bittersweet effort.

The sixth-seeded Retrievers surprised third-seeded Radford by taking sizable leads early in each half. And after Radford finally regrouped to take the lead midway through the second half, UMBC hung tough with the Highlanders down the stretch.

But Radford, behind forwards Tyrone Travis and Don Burgess and conference Rookie of the Year Anthony Walker, finally shook the Retrievers in the last six minutes to post an 81-78 victory and earn a trip to today's semifinals against second- seeded Campbell.

Travis, who made the all-conference second team, wrecked thupset bid of the Retrievers (6-21) almost by himself. He scored 18 of his game-high 25 points in the second half, combining strong play inside (nine rebounds, five blocks) with a soft outside shooting touch. He hit four of five three-pointers, the last of which gave Radford (20-7) a 66-65 lead with 6:33 left.

Burgess (21 points, six rebounds, three blocks), who earned first-team honors on the all-conference team, followed Travis' three by converting a three-point play that put the Highlanders in front, 69-65, with 5:55 left. And Walker (14 points, five assists) showed uncommon poise for a freshman by scoring Radford's final eight points, including six straight at the foul line, to seal the victory.

Skip Saunders finished a fine career at UMBC with 20 points last night. Saunders got the Retrievers rolling by hitting his first three baskets -- all three-pointers to spark UMBC to an 11-2 lead -- and wound up hitting seven of 11 shots, including five of eight from beyond the arc.

"It feels good to go out shooting like this, but I would rather have shot 3-for-20 with us winning and going to the NCAAs," said Saunders, who ended his career with 1,228 points. "We can't hang our heads. It says a lot about Radford, the way they came back from 11-2. The game came down to a couple of key possessions, and they made the right plays at the right time."

Marc Lay added 12 points and seven assists for UMBC. Pascal Fleury added eight points and eight rebounds.

UMBC wasn't supposed to give Radford a game like this. The Retrievers closed out the regular season by losing nine of their last 10 games, including 10 of their last 11 road games. Slowed by injuries all year, UMBC came to the North Charleston Coliseum without senior point guard Spencer Ferguson, who suffered a sprained ankle for the second time this season.

On top of that, the Retrievers had a nightmarish trip to Charleston. Several hours into their ride south, the team bus broke down in Fredericksburg, Va. The team then waited for eight hours before a mechanical problem was fixed, and the Retrievers didn't arrive in Charleston until late Thursday night, 18 hours after departing Baltimore.

Still, it was UMBC that took the game to Radford, forcing 16 turnovers and hitting nine of 15 three-point shots. UMBC faltered after taking the early nine-point lead, but the Retrievers opened a 46-41 lead in the opening five minutes of the second half. But UMBC couldn't keep the bigger, quicker Highlanders down.

"Even though it was a long trip, they handled it well. Sometimesthings like that can bring you together," UMBC coach Earl Hawkins said.

"Both times we played Radford [in the regular season], wplayed well, but they got us in the second half, just like they did tonight."

Radford 81, UMBC 78

UMBC -- Hayes 3-9 6-6 12, Saunders 7-11 1-2 20, Wyatt 3-5 1-2 8, Butts 1-1 0-0 2, Thompson 2-5 0-0 4, Scott 2-6 0-0 5, Arnie Walker 0-1 0-0 0, Lay 5-13 0-0 12, Tweedy 0-0 1-2 1, Fleury 3-5 2-4 8, Bellinger 2-3 2-2 6. Totals 28-59 13-18 78.

RADFORD -- A. Walker 3-5 6-6 14, Ingram 0-3 3-3 3, Lansdown 3-7 1-2 7, Watkins 3-6 1-2 7, Burgess 7-13 6-7 21, Dalton 0-1 0-0 0, Travis 8-10 5-8 25, Harvey 2-8 0-2 4. Totals 26-53 22-30 81.

Halftime -- UMBC 36-34. 3-point goals--UMBC 9-15 (Saunders 5-8, Lay 2-3, Wyatt 1-1, Scott 1-1, Hayes 0-1, Walker 0-1), &L Radford 7-16 (Travis 4-5, Walker 2-3, Burgess 1-5, Lansdown 0-1, Watkins 0-1, Harvey 0-1). Fouled out--Saunders, Arnie Walker. Rebounds--UMBC 32 (Fleury 8), Radford 31 (Travis 9). Assists--UMBC 16 (Lay 7), Radford 15 (Walker 5). Total %o fouls--UMBC 23, Radford 19. A--1,512.

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