UMBC's quick start finishes C. Carolina Retrievers grab 13-0 lead on way to 78-62 victory, their fifth in seven games

January 18, 1998|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

Coastal Carolina could have used a mulligan in its game at UMBC last night.

For want of a single, solitary point over the first eight minutes of what figured to be a nip-and-tuck affair throughout, The Chanticleers fell behind 13-0 and never could get back into it. Meantime, the Retrievers, looking immense over the first 20 minutes while breezing to a 19-point lead, looked ragged thereafter before prevailing, 78-62.

The victory, UMBC's fifth in its past seven games, evened the Retrievers' record at 7-7 and 2-2 in the Big South Conference. It was Coastal Carolina's first loss in league play after two wins and dropped its overall record to 6-10.

"When we got out to a lead like that, I guess we did get a little content. Maybe the intensity wasn't there for a stretch," said Retrievers center Kennedy Okafor, who came out of a mild slump with his seventh double double of the season, 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Teammate Rich Giddens, who led all scorers with 20, including three three-pointers while UMBC was making its early break, added, "We expected them to make a couple of runs, and they did when we got a little lax on defense. But in each half we picked it up defensively at just the right time."

Giddens made the defensive play of the evening, making a thunderous block of a layup attempt by Carolina's biggest player, 6-foot-8 Andrew Tilton, and you could sense the wind going out of the visitors' sails.

"Sometimes, you hate to see things come too easy at the start," said UMBC coach Tom Sullivan. "At the same time, I think we were in control even when they closed in on us. We get some good defensive mounts out of these young guys, and we usually get them at the right times.

"I didn't like some of our possessions, some guys free-lancing when they should have been sticking to the offense. But our defense played hard and did a good job all the way through."

Before Coastal got on the board, all five of the Retrievers' starters had a hand in the 13-0 breakaway.

Shortly after Marcus Stewart, returning to the visitors' lineup after a four-game absence, hit a foul shot to cut the lead to a dozen, he drove for his team's first basket.

Still, the Chanticleers were hamstrung by an active UMBC defense, and the home team ran eight straight points to lead 21-3 at the midpoint of the half.

Finally, Coastal came alive, found someone, senior Rod Dupre, who could connect and started to make things presentable.

It took the Chanticleers more than 14 minutes to score their first 10 points, but it took about three minutes to score their second 10.

At the same time, however, UMBC was picking it up and, on the strength of a barrage of three-pointers be Terence Ward, Giddens and Jason Womble, the Retrievers scored 17 points in the last five minutes of the half and hit the break with a 42-23 advantage.

The Chanticleers outscored the home team, 8-2, at the start of xTC the second half before Giddens and Ward put UMBC's lead back at 15 after 10 minutes. Carolina kept digging and cut its deficit to seven, the last time with four minutes remaining, before the Retrievers stiffened again.

Over the last three minutes, UMBC outscored the visitors 11-1 in a foul-strewn conclusion.

UMBC goes on the road for games against Liberty, Winthrop and Mount St. Mary's. Sullivan said: "I really don't mind going on the road with this team. The players don't seem to be as nervous out there. Here, in front of friends and fans, they might try a little too hard on occasion."

Pub Date: 1/18/98

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