Monmouth lowers curtain on UMBC

Defense on Ward, others lifts Hawks in semis, 67-54

March 05, 2001|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

TRENTON, N.J. -- It's tough to figure out which was more impressive, what the Monmouth team did on defense, or what its guard, Rashaan Johnson, did to wreak havoc on offense during a 67-54 win over UMBC last night in the semifinals of the Northeast Conference tournament at Sovran Bank Arena.

In a rematch of a game in which Monmouth (20-9) gave up 79 points in a loss, the Hawks harassed UMBC guard Terence Ward into 4-for-20 shooting, forced 17 turnovers and limited the impact of the Retrievers' inside game.

"Our defense was great last night," Monmouth coach Dave Calloway said after his team held UMBC (18-11) to 32 percent shooting, one night after holding Fairleigh Dickinson to 39 percent shooting in a first-round win. "I think it was better tonight. "

The Hawks also will be moving into tonight's 9:30 championship game against St. Francis (N.Y.) because of what Johnson did on offense. A former backcourt mate of Steve Francis at Allegany College, Johnson had 23 points and 10 rebounds to go with seven assists, most of them coming in the second half when the Retrievers began concentrating on stopping him.

Gerry Crosby also got loose for 22 points as Monmouth cruised the entire second half.

"They were very focused, and they had a player that was leading the charge," UMBC coach Tom Sullivan said. "I would like to say that we did something wrong, but I'd have to say that Monmouth played a very good game."

It was the final game for Brad Martin, Kennedy Okafor and Ward, seniors who finished as the most successful class since UMBC went to Division I in 1986.

Sullivan lauded the group for helping to bring the program up from a 10-44 record in the two years before their arrival -- but it was a small consolation.

"We didn't do what we set out to do," Ward said after scoring 19 points. "From our freshman year, our goal has been to get to the na- tional tournament, so right now, it's tough to reflect on the overall picture of what we've done."

UMBC's last lead came with 12:41 to go in the first half, when Ward hit a three-pointer to make the score 14-13. The Johnson show began soon after that, starting with the two free throws he made after a technical foul on UMBC guard Justin Wilson at the 9:46 mark.

Johnson had been scoreless up to that point, but he scored nine of his 16 first-half points over the next 2:30 to give the Hawks a 27-20 lead with 6:29 left in the first half. To make matters worse for UMBC, Crosby, a forward, also was having a fine first half, with three three-pointers and 14 points.

The Retrievers had no equivalent threat. Freshmen Peter Mulligan and Will McClurkin were ineffective. And Monmouth center Kevin Owens -- at 6 feet 10 -- kept Okafor and Martin from getting easy put-backs despite the Retrievers' 44-34 rebounding edge.

Ward, the player Monmouth may have feared most, made a pair of free throws to cut his team's deficit to 29-24 with 4:59 left in the half. But with Ward struggling, as he did much of the game, UMBC went into the locker room down 39-30.

"We made Ward's night miserable," said Calloway, who played for Monmouth's NCAA tournament teams during the late 1980s and early 1990s. "He had 19 because he's a great player, but we made him work for it."

UMBC--Martin 1-5 0-0 2, Mulligan 2-9 2-2 6, McClurkin 3-8 0-0 6, Wilson 3-5 0-0 6, Ward 4-20 9-10 19, Brooks 0-0 0-0 0, Giddens 1-4 0-0 2, Yates 6-9 0-1 12, Okafor 0-2 1-2 1, Young 0-0 0-0 0, Williams 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-62 12-15 54.

MONMOUTH--Bridgemohan 1-1 2-4 4, Crosby 5-13 8-10 22, Owens 3-5 4-6 10, Johnson 7-20 7-11 23, Milton 2-3 0-0 4, Krayl 0-2 0-0 0, Bonczewski 0-0 0-0 0, Anderson 2-5 0-0 4. Totals 20-49 21-31 67.

Halftime--Monmouth, 39-30. 3-point goals--UMBC 2-16 (Ward 2-10, Martin 0-1, Yates 0-1, Giddens 0-2, Mulligan 0-2); Monmouth 6-15 (Crosby 4-7, Johnson 2-6, Krayl 0-1, Anderson 0-1). Fouled out--Yates. Rebounds--UMBC 44 (McClurkin 12), Monmouth 34 (Johnson 10). Assists--UMBC 7 (Ward, Okafor 2); Monmouth 12 (Johnson 7). Total fouls--UMBC 26; Monmouth 17. Technical--Wilson. A--2,456.

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