UMBC zone defense, Martin's 23 pace 77-69 win over Sacred Heart

Retrievers lead throughout, even league record at 3-3

January 23, 2000|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

This time, UMBC didn't need a deep bench.

Instead, the Retrievers depended upon their zone defense, some quality time from reserve Sam Grannum and a career-high 23 points by Brad Martin to score a 77-69 Northeast Conference victory yesterday over Sacred Heart at RAC Arena.

After the game's first basket, UMBC (7-9, 3-3) never trailed to Sacred Heart, a former Division II power and national champ that's playing its first year in Division I.

The game was slow-paced, with both teams sitting extensively in zones. UMBC, however, was able to penetrate the Sacred Heart defense and keep control of the game throughout.

"Some people are taking advantage of mismatches with our guards, and we're a pretty good zone team," Retriever coach Tom Sullivan said. "Our preference is man, but our desire is to win."

Martin, who had a career-high 21 points in Wednesday's loss to Mount St. Mary's, topped that by using his quickness to beat bigger, bulkier foes around the basket. He hit 8 of 12 field-goal attempts and captured seven rebounds to lead UMBC while Kennedy Okafor, a burly 6-7 center, played just 12 minutes.

"I feel like I have to turn it on when Kennedy or somebody else is having an off day," the 6-5 Martin said. "I really depend on being quick in there."

Freshman Grannum absorbed some of the slack with eight points in a strong fill-in role, and sixth-man Kerry Martin played his usual steady floor game.

Sacred Heart (2-14, 1-5) went 4-for-19 from the floor in the first 10 minutes while the Retrievers raced to a 13-point lead.

Sacred Heart managed to stay somewhat close by hitting 10 three-pointers, but there was no sustained comeback from the Pioneers, who were fresh from a win over Wagner that ended an 11-game losing streak.

They got to within 74-67 with 21 seconds left before Terence Ward iced it for the Retrievers with two free throws.

"We did a good job of controlling," Sullivan said. "But we're still not getting to the next level. We have to be happy with a victory, but this team still has to learn how to win."

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