Teaming up, Retrievers snatch `Battle' victory

UMBC defeats Towson for 4th title in row, 59-53

College Basketball

November 23, 2003|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

Because they could vote for only one player, observers at the final Battle of Baltimore chose UMBC's Andrew Feeley as the Most Valuable Player.

His two-game total of 29 points was the highest on a Retrievers team that defeated Towson, 59-53, for its fourth straight tournament title. And with his third appearance in the event, perhaps he has squatter rights among other candidates for the award.

But on a team where the contributions were well-spread, Feeley seemed somewhat sheepish about the designation. It could have easily gone to guard Rob Gogerty, who had a Battle-record 11 assists last night to follow a 16-point effort against Loyola the night before. How about reserve Cory McJimson, who had 12 points, two steals and eight rebounds, matching the eight rebounds he grabbed in the first round?

"I'm just happy to win the whole thing," Feeley said after a 10-point, five-rebound outing last night. "Tonight, I didn't feel like I played very well. It was just a whole team effort."

Just about every bit of that effort was necessary against a Towson team had just ended an overall losing streak of 14 games and hoped to end a string of six losses to the Retrievers.

Though the tone seemed even, the Tigers appeared as if they might control the game in the same way they did the night before, when they ended their long skid and reached the final by holding Coppin State to 33 percent shooting in a 57-54 victory.

Towson's zone defense limited the space available for Feeley, who roamed during a 19-point, 10-rebound night against Loyola. So the Retrievers took three minutes to score last night. In contrast, Towson got some easy baskets by pushing the ball inside to 7-foot Derrick Goode.

Before you knew it, the Tigers led 12-4 at the 14:26 mark on a Jamaal Gilchrist layup and held a 18-8 lead with 9:29 on a jumper by Jonathan Pease.

The Retrievers made their run coming out of a timeout taken shortly thereafter, allowing only two field goals until the end of the first half.

"We didn't score many points, but fortunately our defense was good enough where they didn't score many points either," UMBC coach Tom Sullivan said. "It wasn't like we couldn't go on a spurt and catch up."

Just like that, UMBC reverted to the efficient self it displayed during a 72-50 victory Loyola on Friday night. Over roughly four minutes, McJimson threw in six points, and John Zito and Feeley each contributed four as the Retrievers quickly erased a 10-point deficit.

McJimson's jumper at the 3:03 mark gave UMBC its first lead of the game at 21-20. That score was part of a 19-5 run over the last 6:37 that lifted the Retrievers to a 27-23 halftime edge.

In a mostly tight second half, Kareem Washington's three pointers within 75 seconds gave UMBC a 45-37 lead with 7:26 left go. McJimson took an assist from Washington on a layup with 6:15 for a 49-40 gap, the largest of the game.

Troubles at the free-throw line, going 10 out of 19, doomed the Tigers.

"We got in the bonus early, and we felt that if we shot it well, it would keep us around two or three points," said Towson coach Michael Hunt. "Instead ... we were still down four or five."

UMBC - Davis 1-2 0-2 2; Zito 4-10 2-6 11, Feeley 3-7 4-7 10, Gogerty 1-4 4-4 7, Pugh 4-10 0-0 8, Washington 3-8 0-0 8, McJimson 6-11 0-0 12, Housman 0-0 0-0 0, Young 0- 2 1-2 1. Totals 22-54 11-21 59. TOWSON - Hamm 3-9 3-4 10, Tubbs 1-5 2-3 4, Goode 4-6 0-0 8, Jackson 2-5 0-0 5, Green 2-5 1-2 6, Dixon 2-6 1-5 5, McSweeney 0-0 0-0 0, Pease 2-6 0-0 4, McCartney 1-3 0-0 2, Plack 0-1 0-0 0, Gilchrist 3-7 3-5 9. Totals 20-53 10-19 53. Half: UMBC, 27-23. 3-point goals-UMBC 4-11 (Washington 2-4, Gogerty 1-2, Zito 1-4, McJimson 0-1), Towson 3-9 (Hamm 1-1, Green 1-1, Jackson 1-2, Gilchrist 0-2, Pease 0-3). Fouled out-Feeley. Rebounds-UMBC 33 (McJimson 8), Towson 44 (Dixon 12). Assists-UMBC 17 (Gogerty 11), Towson (Green 3). Total fouls-UMBC 19, Towson 18. Technical Fouls-Towson bench. A-1,832.

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