UMBC catches, passes Fairleigh Dickinson

Retrievers score final 7 to earn a 63-57 victory

College Basketball

February 02, 2003|By Bo Smolka | Bo Smolka,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

After watching a string of final-minute failures this season, UMBC coach Tom Sullivan was beginning to wonder if his young squad had the mettle to pull out a close game.

He got the answer yesterday, as the Retrievers scored the final seven points to rally past Fairleigh Dickinson, 63-57, before 1,942 at RAC Arena.

Kareem Washington scored 19 of his 23 points in the second half for UMBC, which trailed for the first 35 minutes but held Fairleigh Dickinson to one field goal over the final 10 minutes.

UMBC (6-11, 4-4 Northeast Conference) had lost three of its previous six games despite leading in the final minute. This time, though, the Retrievers slammed the door on the Knights (9-8, 4-4), holding them scoreless over the final 1:49.

Washington's layup with 56 seconds left gave the Retrievers the lead for good at 59-57, and Justin Wilson secured the win by going 4-for-4 from the foul line in the final 22 seconds.

Fairleigh Dickinson entered the game ranked among the nation's most prolific three-point shooting teams, and the Knights made two three-pointers in the first minute to jump to a 6-0 lead. But they missed seven of eight three-pointers in the second half, including an open look by Lionel Bomayako, their leading scorer, with 1:02 left and the game tied 57-57.

"As the game went along, we were able to establish our defensive intensity and check their three-point shooters," Sullivan said. "Our defense tightened up and our rebounding got better."

Knights coach Tom Green said, "We've done a pretty good job of taking care of business in the last four or five minutes, but tonight we just didn't do it."

Trailing 48-41, UMBC rallied behind Washington, who scored eight straight points during a 10-2 run. His jumper with 5:21 left gave the Retrievers their first lead at 51-50.

Fairleigh Dickinson set the tempo early behind freshman center Gordon Klaiber (career-high 19 points). The Greenbelt native scored 10 points in the first 10 minutes.

UMBC stayed close in the first half by pounding the ball inside to center Andrew Feeley, who had 10 of his 15 points before halftime.

"We fought the whole way through," said Feeley, who had nine rebounds. "I think in some of those close losses we hadn't played hard the whole game, and today we finished out strong."

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