UMBC gets first win in league Green, Retrievers dump Charleston Southern, 71-59

January 15, 1998|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

It appears that UMBC might be learning.

After failing to hold its composure in back-to-back three-point losses, the host Retrievers displayed poise down the stretch last night to hold off Charleston Southern, 71-59, for its first Big South Conference win of the season.

UMBC (6-7, 1-2), which starts four freshmen and a sophomore, converted seven of its last 10 free throws and limited the Buccaneers (1-13, 0-2) to one field goal in the final minute.

Isaac Green scored a career-best 18 points and Terence Ward added 17 points and six assists for the Retrievers, who won at home for the first time since Dec. 23.

"I was glad we responded at the end of the game," UMBC coach Tom Sullivan said. "With the lack of leadership, there are periods when we do not look like a good team. At times, we play down to our competition."

Last night, that time occurred after the Retrievers built a 45-28 lead 3 1/2 minutes into the second half. UMBC then became complacent on defense and stagnant in its movement on offense.

The Bucs, the defending Big South champions who have lost by an average of 19.5 points a game, took advantage immediately, reeling off 12 straight points to cut the deficit to 45-40 with 12: 40 remaining.

"We lost our intensity," Sullivan said. "And at that point, some of our confidence went."

But Charleston Southern's momentum ended when an improbable delay occurred. With UMBC leading 55-49 with 4: 57 left, the Retrievers' Kennedy Okafor grabbed the net after being fouled on a breakaway layup, tearing it completely off the rim.

An 11-minute delay to replace the net didn't affect UMBC, but seemed to disrupt the Bucs' offensive flow. Charleston Southern missed nine of its final 13 (31 percent), which sealed the Bucs' fifth consecutive loss.

"I told my guys that the delay would help us, but unfortunately it gave [UMBC] a chance to regroup," Charleston Southern coach Tom Conrad said. "That's the best freshman group I've seen in this conference in about five years."

In the first half, UMBC bolted to a 20-8 lead on the strength of a 16-2 run.

Pub Date: 1/15/98

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