Liberty pins ninth straight loss on UMBC Retrievers' leader injured in 79-63 defeat

January 11, 1996|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

It figured to be a tough night for the beleaguered UMBC basketball team, and with 7:54 remaining in the first half, it got even tougher.

At that point, UMBC's offensive leader, Tony Thompson, left the game with a sprained ankle and with him went the Retrievers' chances of upsetting Liberty.

Thompson had kept UMBC competitive before the injury, but the Flames completely took over the game thereafter and romped to a 79-63 Big South Conference victory at the UMBC Fieldhouse.

The defeat -- in a game rescheduled from last week because of the death of guard Matt Skalsky -- was the ninth in a row for UMBC, which is 1-11 (0-2 Big South) under first-year coach Tom Sullivan.

Thompson had 13 first-half points, culminated by the three-point play on which he was hurt. He departed with the Retrievers leading 19-18.

But Liberty (7-4, 1-0) went ahead for good on a three-pointer by Larry Jackson and sank 14 of 16 free throws the rest of the half to take command, 38-29.

UMBC never got closer than seven after the break.

"Tony helps us to do a lot of things," said Sullivan. "It's hard when you lose that big a part of your offense."

Thompson is day-to-day.

Sullivan tried to counteract Liberty's outstanding big man, Peter Aluma, with a zone defense, a sound strategy also because the league's top three-point shooter, Jay Boykin, was out of the Flames' lineup with a knee injury.

But three-pointers came flying anyway from Jackson (four of eight) and forward Barry Taylor (three of five), who combined for 41 points while Aluma was held in check.

"That's the first game we've won that Peter didn't lead us in scoring," said Liberty coach Jeff Meyer. "Their zone made a lot of sense. But we have other guys who can shoot threes in practice and they showed up in the game tonight."

Meanwhile, UMBC had its difficulties from long range without Thompson, hitting only four of 16.

"We wound up with some very unusual combinations on the floor without Tony," said Sullivan. "Once he went down, they were able to double down on Kevin [Bellinger]. We just never had the firepower to make the run and without Tony's leadership, we fell out of our offense a few times."

Bellinger later thrived because Aluma was in foul trouble in the second half and finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman Alhamisi Simms led UMBC with 15 points.

NOTE: UMBC's game at Radford, which was postponed on Monday because of the blizzard, was rescheduled for Thursday, Jan. 18, at 7:30 p.m.

Liberty 79, UMBC 63

LIBERTY -- Taylor 7-10 2-2 19, Sorensen 3-7 1-1 7, Aluma 2-7 8-8 12, Jackson 8-17 2-2 22, White 1-3 2-2 4, Pothoven 0-2 2-3 2, Allison 0-0 0-0 0, Hopkins 0-1 5-8 5, Gjorgjevski 0-0 0-0 0, Reed 2-3 3-5 8. Totals 23-50 25-31 79.

UMBC -- Lay 2-5 6-9 11, Thompson 5-6 3-4 13, Bellinger 6-14 2-6 14, Simms 6-12 0-0 15, Merritt 4-11 0-0 8, Hayes 0-3 0-0 0, van Veen 0-5 0-0 0, Lucien 1-2 0-0 2, Mulosevic 0-1 0-0 0, Poiesz 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-59 11-19 63.

Halftime--Liberty, 38-29. 3-point goals--L 8-17 (Jackson 4-8, Taylor 3-5, Reed 1-2, Sorensen 0-1, White 0-1); UMBC 4-16 (Simms 3-8, Lay 1-3, Milosevic 0-1, Hayes 0-2, van Veen 0-2). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--L 39 (Jackson 12); UMBC 34 (Bellinger 10). Assists--L 14 (Jackson 7); UMBC 15 (Merritt 5). Total fouls--L 18, UMBC 23. A--416.

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