Hodges, UMBC off to fast start

Sophomore in tourney form with 33 points

UMBC 88 Stony Brook 70

America East men

March 04, 2006|By DAN HICKLING | DAN HICKLING,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

VESTAL, N.Y. -- Brian Hodges will tell you there's nothing special about playing in the America East tournament.

But his personal history will tell you otherwise. Last night, Hodges, a sophomore, came off the bench to score a career-high 33 points, leading No. 8 seed UMBC to an 88-70 first-round tournament win over No. 9 seed Stony Brook at Binghamton University.

The Retrievers will face No. 1 seed Albany in a quarterfinal tonight at 6.

Hodges' previous top performance of 28 points came in last season's play-in game with New Hampshire. In all, the Bishop McNamara product has a 25.0 average in three America East tournament games, better than twice his 10.7 career average heading into last night.

Still, he insisted, it was business as usual against the Seawolves.

"To me, it was just another game," he said. "My shot was feeling good, so my teammates started looking for me. I just knocked them down."

Hodges was 9-for-13 for the game, including 5-for-8 from beyond the arc. For good measure, he went 10-for-10 from the free-throw line. He also grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.

"Brian just did a phenomenal job of getting open," UMBC coach Randy Monroe said.

Oddly, none of his points came in a decisive, 17-2 second-half stretch spanning 4:05 when the Retrievers locked up the win. Then again, once Hodges began hitting from all over the forecourt, so did his teammates.

The Retrievers hit an astounding 85.7 percent (18-for-21) of their second-half shots from the floor to expand what had been a two-point, 39-37 halftime lead.

"I think it [was] a domino effect," Monroe said. "I'd like to bottle that and take into the [next] game. We shoot like that [against Albany] and we'll be fine."

It was a reversal of the first half when UMBC shot 37 percent (11-for-29). Still, the Retrievers bailed themselves out by going a nearly flawless 14-for-15 from the line, with Hodges 8-for-8.

Stony Brook took a 10-2 lead, then pushed it to 14-4.

But UMBC ran off 10 straight points in a brief 3:58 span to tie the game at 14. It see-sawed from there, with the Retrievers finally taking their first lead, 31-30, with 2:41 left in the half on John Zito's jumper, his first points of the game.

Stony Brook forward Mike Popoko (McDonogh) then had a scoring binge, hitting seven of his team-high 14 and briefly giving the Wolves a 37-36 lead with 35 seconds left. But Chris Pugh countered with a long three to cap the half.

Hodges then built on his 15-point first half with 18 in the second.

"It was tremendous," Monroe said. "He's one of the most humble players I've been around. I think he could be one of the best players in UMBC history, but he's not concerned about that. He's more concerned about his team being successful. You don't find many players like that."

STONY BROOK-Bamiro 4-6 0-0 8, Popoko 6-12 0-0 14, Beauford 5-9 1-4 11, Santiago 4-9 0-0 11, Cunningham 3-10 0-2 6, Hardy 1-3 2-2 4, Cox 0-0 0-0 0, Noble 2-5 0-0 5, Feist 1-2 2-2 4, Bakinde 2-2 1-2 5, Goba 0-0 0-0 0, Henkel 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 29-59 6-12 70. UMBC-Zito 2-4 1-2 5, Housman 5-6 1-3 11, Greene 4-9 2-2 13, Dinkins 5-10 3-3 13, Pugh 2-3 4-4 9, Seaborn 0-1 0-0 0, Young 2-4 0-1 4, Hodges 9-13 10-10 33, Eshietedoho 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-50 21-25 88. Halftime-Maryland-Baltimore County 39-37. 3-point goals-Stony Brook 6-15 (Santiago 3-6, Popoko 2-5, Noble 1-1, Feist 0-1, Hardy 0-1, Cunningham 0-1), UMBC 9-18 (Hodges 5-8, Greene 3-7, Pugh 1-2, Young 0-1). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Stony Brook 21 (Popoko 5), UMBC 35 (Hodges 8). Assists-Stony Brook 18 (Beauford 7), UMBC 16 (Greene, Hodges, Pugh 4). Total fouls-Stony Brook 21, UMBC 17. A-1,968.

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