UMBC ends regular season on high note with OT win Van Veen's 3-pointer foils Charleston Southern, 85-80

February 23, 1997|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

This has been another dreary season for UMBC, but a ray of hope peeked through the clouds yesterday.

In their regular-season finale, the Retrievers fought off a 33-point splurge by the Big South Conference scoring champion, Brett Larrick, and outlasted Charleston Southern, 85-80, in overtime at UMBC Fieldhouse.

"Now we're definitely going to take a positive attitude into the tournament [beginning Wednesday at Liberty]," said senior Ron Lucien, a former walk-on who scored a career-high 26 points.

"We've played a lot of these teams tough, so this was a good psychological win."

A falling-down three-pointer by Michael van Veen with 27 seconds left in the extra period broke an 80-80 tie and enabled van Veen to tie the school record of seven three-pointers held jointly by Larry Simmons and Skip Saunders.

The native of Den Helder, Holland, also was in the middle of the final defensive sequence that denied Larrick the ball for a tying three-point try. UMBC ran a switch with van Veen covering Larrick, who was forced to pass to forward Jeff Daniels.

"Fortunately, we had a timeout and we ended up getting a 6-6 guy shooting a three-pointer. That's what we wanted," said van Veen, who also exceeded his career high with 25 points.

Daniels missed the shot and Larrick later was called for traveling to squelch the final thrusts by Charleston Southern (14-12, 7-7).

Lucien finished the scoring with two free throws.

The Retrievers (5-21, 2-12) will finish with the same overall record as last season if they lose to No. 1 seed UNC-Asheville, their probable opponent in the tournament's first round.

"At this time, every win is meaningful the way we were going," UMBC coach Tom Sullivan said. "Our kids played hard and Lucien did a great job of guarding a great player, one who is hard to stop for an entire game."

The UMBC victory ended a five-game losing streak to Charleston Southern, which played without its outstanding point guard, Errol McPherson, who's out for the season with an injury.

"This was an emotional game," said Lucien, who was honored before the tip-off with fellow senior Mark Lay. "I've been through at lot at UMBC. But luckily, everybody was ready to play. It was a collective effort."

Pub Date: 2/23/97

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