UMBC starts red-hot, finishes with repeat crown in `Battle'

Retrievers rout Towson, 73-54, behind 20 points from MVP Mulligan

November 20, 2001|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

UMBC men's basketball coach Tom Sullivan believes success in the early season can be found by playing relentless defense and keeping mistakes to a minimum.

Hot shooting out of the gate does wonders, too.

The Retrievers hit 10 of their first 14 shots last night against Towson University, scoring the game's first six points and following with 13 straight shortly thereafter to provide the necessary separation in a convincing 73-54 defense of their Battle of Baltimore crown in front of 1,044 at Loyola's Reitz Arena.

Coming off a 15-point, 11-rebound performance in a 76-66 win over Loyola in Saturday's first round, Retrievers sophomore guard Peter Mulligan finished with 20 points, five assists and five steals last night to take home tournament Most Valuable Player honors. Joining him on the all-tournament team were teammates Ron Yates and Malik Wallace; Towson's Mike Shin and Sam Sutton; and Rasheem Sims from third-place Coppin State.

In winning back-to-back championships, UMBC ties Loyola with two wins each in the tournament's fourth season.

"I think the fact that it's a championship game, you want to get ahead as quickly as you can. And then we feel one of our strong points is defense, and we think that teams when they get into a situation with us where they're behind, they're going to have a hard time rallying a series of points," Sullivan said.

"They might get one or two baskets, but they're not going to get four or five. Very rarely do we give up streaks. And what we've been able to do so far this year if you want to coin a phrase is we have pretty good spurtability. So we can spurt and what we can also do is stop other teams from spurting."

The Retrievers' defense forced 25 Towson turnovers, and the winners again got plenty of balance on offense. After four players finished in double digits in the opening win against Loyola, the Retrievers had three more last night, with Wallace (14 points) and junior guard Justin Wilson (15 points) joining Mulligan.

"This means a lot to us. This is our second year winning it, and it's a big part of our season winning this event," Mulligan said.

The Tigers (1-1) need to look no farther than turnovers and the free-throw line to find where any chance of a comeback faltered. After settling in to close within 30-21 with 5:28 left in the first half, senior center Shin missed the front ends of consecutive one-and-ones, and then Sutton missed two more on their next possession.

Trailing 33-24 just out of the half, Shin missed two more from the line on the Tigers' opening possession, and then UMBC freshman guard Rob Gogerty nailed a three-pointer at the other end for a 36-24 lead that would grow to 51-28 five minutes into the second half.

The Tigers shot 50 percent from the field, but hit only 14 of 30 from the free-throw line with the abundance of turnovers.

"When we weren't missing free throws, we were turning the ball over, so I think we basically shot ourselves in the foot and didn't give ourselves a chance to get back in the game," said Towson first-year coach Michael Hunt. "And that's not to take anything away from UMBC. They're very well coached and came with a good game plan, but if we had made free throws early and turned the ball over less, I felt like instead of being down 10 or 15 most of the second half, maybe we got a chance to be within six or eight and it's a different game."

Shin, whose last-second jumper lifted the Tigers past Coppin State, 53-51, in Saturday's opening round, struggled to find his mark at the free-throw line. He finished hitting two of 11 on the night.

"It was just real frustrating the whole entire game, like Coach said with the turnovers and them jumping out at the start of the game. I just don't know what the problem was at the foul line, but I'm going to be working hard this week in practice to try to get better," he said.

TOWSON-Sutton 3-7 2-6 9, Augustus 2-3 0-2 4, Shin 3-5 2-11 8, Allen 4-8 0-0 9, Dotson 2-4 3-3 7, Reaves 0-1 2-2 2, Blanks 1-3 1-2 3, Weatherspoon 1-1 0-0 2, Goodman 1-4 4-4 6, Fofana 1-1 0-0 2, Dixon 1-1 0-0 2.

Totals 19-38 14-30 54.

UMBC-McClurkin 2-7 2-3 6, Mulligan 8-17 4-5 20, Gogerty 1-1 0-0 3, Wallace 4-10 5-6 14, Yates 3-9 0-0 6, Washington 3-4 0-0 6, Wilson 5-6 3-5 15, Snyder 0-0 1-3 1, Williams 0-0 0-0 0, Young 0-0 0-0 0, Feeley 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 27-55 15-22 73.

Halftime-UMBC, 33-24. 3-point goals-Towson 2-8 (Sutton 1-2, Allen 1-3, Dotson 0-1, Reaves 0-1, Goodman 0-1), UMBC 4-8 (Mulligan 0-2, Gogerty 1-1, Wallace 1-1, Yates 0-2, Wilson 2-2). Rebounds-Towson 30 (Blanks 7), UMBC 30 (Wallace 7). Assists-Towson 8 (Allen 4), UMBC 11 (Mulligan 5). Total fouls-Towson 16, UMBC 24. A-1,044.

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