Monmouth holds off UMBC's bid, 80-74

Sluggish first half costly as league co-leader rides 29 foul shots to 5th in row

College Basketball

February 04, 2003|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

UMBC made a determined run at the Northeast Conference's co-leader last night, but couldn't get past Monmouth's big men and free-throw shooting at RAC Arena.

With 6-foot-10 Kevin Owens scoring a season-high 23 points and burly strong forward Blake Hamilton adding 14, Monmouth staved off a late Retrievers surge for an 80-74 victory that maintained its share of the league lead with Wagner.

UMBC coach Tom Sullivan attributed the defeat to a sluggish first half in which the Hawks confused his team with a matchup zone.

"They try to confuse all the teams they play with that defense," said guard Justin Wilson, who topped the Retrievers with 19 points and spearheaded the late comeback. "If you don't make good decisions against it, you're in trouble."

Monmouth (10-8, 8-1 NEC) won its fifth straight and ninth of the past 11 by exploiting UMBC's 12 turnovers and hitting 11 of 12 at the free-throw line to forge ahead by 37-24 before four straight Retrievers points closed the half.

Owens and Hamilton scored 13 of the Hawks' first 16 second-half points, keeping the margin intact before foul trouble forced UMBC (6-12, 4-5) into a zone that helped launch a turnaround.

The Retrievers amassed eight three-pointers in the second half, but could never trim the margin to fewer than three.

Rob Gogerty had a shot to tie the game, but his three rattled out and Owens and Hamilton scored the next eight Hawks points to parry the threat.

Monmouth finished 29-for-35 from the foul line to override being outshot from the field. The Hawks' last 11 points were free throws, seven by freshman Tyler Azzarelli.

"This was a big win for us for seeding purposes in the NEC tournament," said Monmouth coach Dave Calloway. "We're now 4-0 against the teams we play only once."

"We've just been able to pull out these kind of games," Hamilton said. "We got the stops we needed and stayed focused at the end."

"With five minutes to go, I thought we had a great shot at them," Sullivan said. "But we don't have the go-to guy to close out with this year. And at the defensive end we couldn't come up with an answer for Owens."

"We just couldn't knock down the big ones and didn't have enough to get over the hump," Wilson said.

MONMOUTH-Krayl 3-7 6-6 13, Hamilton 6-12 1-3 14, K. Owens 7-10 9-11 23, Azzarelli 1-2 7-9 10, Byfield 3-8 2-2 10, Kaplan 0-0 0-0 0, B. Owens 0-1 2-2 2, Kenny 2-5 2-2 8. Totals 22-45 29-35 80.

UMBC-Zito 1-2 2-4 4, Hatcher 6-12 0-0 14, Young 3-4 1-2 7, Washington 4-14 0-0 11, Gogerty 3-9 0-0 7, Wilson 8-12 0-0 19, Dinkins 1-2 0-0 2, Snyder 0-1 0-0 0, Williams 0-1 0-0 0, Feeley 5-6 0-2 10. Totals 31-63 3-8 74.

Halftime-Monmouth, 37-28. 3-point goals-Monmouth 7-15 (Krayl 1-2, Hamilton 1-2, Azzarelli 1-1, Byfield 2-6, B. Owens 0-1, Kenney 2-3), UMBC 9-25 (Hatcher 2-4, Washington 3-9, Gogerty 1-5, Wilson 3-6, Dinkins 0-1). Rebounds-Monmouth 26 (K. Owens 7), UMBC 37 (Feeley 9).

Assists-Monmouth 15 (Azzarelli, Byfield 4), UMBC 19 (Hatcher, Washington 4). Total fouls-Monmouth 12, UMBC 23. Fouled out-Young.

Technical fouls-none. A-1,314.

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