UMBC tumbles, 95-91, to St. Francis, N.Y.

Retrievers blow 55-43 lead

Terriers' Howard nets 35

College Basketball

January 07, 2001|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

UMBC has been experiencing trouble in close games since last season, and the old bugaboo struck again last night at RAC Arena.

In a bitter, foul-filled battle of attrition, the Retrievers never led in the overtime period and dropped a Northeast Conference game to St. Francis (N.Y.), 95-91, to absorb their fifth defeat in the past six games.

St. Francis (4-7, 3-1 NEC) thus took the first key showdown between the two schools in the race to keep up with NEC favorite Central Connecticut, which has beaten both.

"This was a very big win for us because this is a good team we beat on the road," Terriers coach Ron Ganulin said.

Steven Howard poured in 40 points in a victory over UMBC last season and followed that with 35 last night after a slow start.

"Howard really likes to play here," Ganulin said. "I think I'm going to vote to have the playoffs held here."

After the Retrievers grabbed a 55-43 advantage early in the second half, Howard's long-range bombing prevented St. Francis from falling out of range of the Retrievers."[Howard] had a freshman covering him and burned him consistently," UMBC coach Tom Sullivan said. "I think in the second half their four seniors decided to play like seniors and took it to our freshmen. Our kids are coming out of high school where you just outscore everybody. They'll get more used to which end of the floor is more important as they go on."

Sixty-eight personal fouls were whistled and 98 free throws were tried in the marathon, which required more than 2 1/2 hours before the Terriers hit 10 of 14 free throws in the extra period to persevere.

One of the UMBC seniors - Terence Ward - rescued his team from defeat in the regulation period, nailing a three-pointer from the corner with 5.2 seconds remaining to tie the game at 81. St. Francis had one last shot with 1.8 seconds to go after two timeouts, but Richy Dominguez's off-balance shot from the wing went wide.

In the extra session, Howard hit a free throw, Dominguez added two more and Howard hit his sixth three-pointer to put the Terriers ahead, 87-81. The Retrievers climbed back to within 90-89 with 59 seconds left on another Ward three-pointer and still had a chance in the final 17 seconds.

A play was set up for either Ward or Rich Giddens to attempt a three-point shot with St. Francis leading, 94-91, but Howard stole a pass to end the final threat.

"I'm still trying to figure out how we won," said Ganulin, whose team had one fewer field goal, was out-rebounded and was virtually even at the foul line and in turnovers.

"The only thing I can see is a few more threes. It is a tremendous lift to us to win down here."

Former Loyola College forward Clifford Strong - who transferred to St. Francis after suffering an injury early last season - continued to blend into the Terriers lineup with 13 points and seven rebounds. Ward topped UMBC's four double-figure scorers with 19.

Three of the Retrievers' inside players fouled out in the overtime, and both coaches had to spend much of the night playing unfamiliar lineups because of foul trouble.

"There were so many fouls, I wound up with some combinations I never even dreamed of," Sullivan said. "You wind up playing people in positions they're not familiar with. It was that kind of game."

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