UMBC survives Western Maryland scare Div. III squad falls short in upset bid on road, 83-79

December 21, 1997|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

In a game where luck was not expected to be a factor, luck was what saved UMBC in its 83-79 victory over Western Maryland yesterday in Catonsville.

A missed dunk, a stumble and a rush of adrenalin meant that UMBC (3-5) would be spared the indignity of losing to a Division III basketball team.

It also denied Western Maryland the opportunity to win what will be its final game for a while against UMBC. Next year, the Retrievers move into the Northeast Conference, whose members can't play Division III teams.

"If you're that close, you might as well win it," said Western Maryland forward Will Marshall, who scored 15 points. "To me it doesn't feel good, even though they're more talented."

After trailing most of the game, Western Maryland (4-4) got its first shot at tying the game with 2: 45 left. Guard Brian Tombs stole the ball and passed it downcourt to Brian Billman (game-high 19 points), who missed a dunk with the Green Terror down, 74-72.

Western Maryland had a chance to take the lead with 23.3 seconds left, but Karl Friedman was called for traveling in the low post.

After Nick Grella's free throw gave UMBC a 79-77 lead, Tombs' long-range shooting seemed a logical choice for Western Maryland, as he had hit five three-pointers in the game.

Admittedly "a bit too pumped up," Tombs' attempt was long, killing any final Green Terror hopes.

"We were a little bit overconfident," UMBC's freshman forward Kennedy Okafor said after a 16-point, 13-rebound performance. "We thought we could take them out early."

It appeared he was right when the Retrievers jumped to a 9-2 lead behind the shooting of freshman Rich Giddens, who scored eight in the first nine minutes.

A second surge gave UMBC a 42-27 lead.

But UMBC failed to score a basket during the last five minutes of the first half. Two three-pointers by Kevin Buckley and another by Tombs brought Western Maryland to within 42-39 at the break.

"I can't compliment Western Maryland enough," UMBC coach Tom Sullivan said. "They handled the initial surge when we played well, and then they came back and dug in defensively. You have to credit them for that."

At the end, it was Terence Ward who was one of the heroes for UMBC, with a series of pullup jumpers that kept Western Maryland at bay.

A freshman point guard, Ward scored a career-high 18, momentarily reverting to the scoring role that he played at Egg Harbor Township in New Jersey. "I'm feeling more comfortable," he said, "but I'm still trying to figure where I fit in because this is more talent than I'm used to dealing with."

WESTERN MARYLAND -- Marshall 5-15 4-7 15, Friedheim 2-7 2-2 6, Billman, 8-12 3-4 19, Myers 0-0 0-0 0, Tombs 5-16 1-3 16, Cummings 1-1 0-0 2, Taylor 1-1 0-0 3, Michel, 2-2 1-2 5, Miller 2-4 1-2 5, Pond 0-0 0-0 0, Furey 1-2 0-0 2, Buckley 2-2 0-0 6, Hegmann 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 29-63 12-20 79.

UMBC -- Green 4-8 0-2 8, Martin 2-6 0-0 4, Okafor 5-13 6-8 16, Ward 7-14 0-0 18, Giddens 3-7 4-4 12, Harrison 0-1 0-0 0, Hyland 4-11 4-4 14, Womble 0-2 2-2 2, Martin 1-2 0-0 2, Grella 2-4 3-4 7. Totals 28-68 19-24 83.

Halftime--UMBC 42-39. 3-point goals--W.Maryland 9-18 (Marshall 1-2, Friedheim 0-1, Tombs, 5-12, Taylor 1-1, Buckley 2-2, UMBC 8-18 (Ward 4-8, Giddens 2-3, Harrison 0-1, Hyland 2-6) Fouled out--None. Rebounds--W.Maryland 37 (Friedheim, Billman 6), UMBC 43 (Okafor 13). Assists--W.Maryland 23 (Myers 7), UMBC 18 (Martin 4). Total fouls--W.Maryland 20, UMBC 18. A--707.

Pub Date: 12/21/97

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