UMBC overcomes slow start to win

Hodges scores 27 to lead Retrievers past GW

UMBC 89 George Washington 79

November 25, 2007|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Special to the Sun

As the final seconds ticked down yesterday, UMBC guard Jay Greene used his left hand to dribble and his right to whip the home crowd into a frenzy.

For a UMBC program that has experienced more heartache than success in Division I, an 89-79 win over George Washington -- an NCAA tournament team each of the past three years -- was as big as it gets.

Guard Brian Hodges scored 22 of his game-high 27 points in the second half, hitting six of his career-high seven three-pointers then, to help the Retrievers erase an early 12-point deficit and improve to 3-0 this season against the Atlantic 10.

"It's a credit to us and the way we play. We're building a name for ourselves," said Hodges, whose torrid shooting helped UMBC build its lead to as much as 18 points in the second half. "It was all about my teammates finding me, penetrating and kicking it to me. My shot felt good coming off my hand. I kept shooting until I missed."

The Retrievers (4-1) are off to their best start since the 2001-02 season.

They beat a George Washington team without its all-conference guard Maureece Rice, who was serving a one-game suspension for violating a team rule.

"UMBC was so good today, it didn't make a difference who was playing," Colonials coach Karl Hobbs said. "When they needed to get a big rebound, they got it. When they needed to make a big stop, they got it. And when they got fouled, they made free throws. That's what good teams do."

Early in the first half, George Washington (2-1) looked as if it might win the game in a rout.

Taking advantage of the perimeter shooting of forward Damian Hollis and height mismatches in the paint, the Colonials made 10 of their first 12 shots to build a 28-16 lead midway through the half.

"I thought we just had to settle down," UMBC coach Randy Monroe said. "We were probably jacked a little bit. Then we kind of settled in and started really focusing on George Washington's pressure. We started moving the ball from one side to the other, and we were getting open looks."

UMBC got consecutive three-pointers from Hodges and Ray Barbosa (21 points) to spark a 19-4 run. The Retrievers took their first lead, at 33-32, on Darryl Proctor's fall-away jumper from the corner with 1:12 left in the half and led 35-34 at halftime.

George Washington made just four of 19 field goals over the final 11:33 of the half and struggled for much of the second half.

And UMBC limited the bigger Colonials to one shot on most possessions on its way to out-rebounding them 42-32.

Cavell Johnson and Proctor finished with 17 points each for the Retrievers, whose lead never fell below six points in the game's final 17 minutes and hit seven of nine foul shots over the final 1:45 to preserve the win.

Forward Wynton Witherspoon led George Washington with 21 points.

GEORGE WASHINGTON--Witherspoon 6-12 9-11 21, Moore 2-9 0-0 5, Hollis 4-9 0-0 10, Diggs 8-16 3-3 19, Alexander 3-6 3-4 10, Lee 0-1 0-0 0, Opoku 0-1 0-0 0, Green 0-0 0-0 0, Wilmore 1-3 0-0 3, Laplante 0-0 0-0 0, Beatty 3-5 3-3 9, Katuka 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 28-63 18-21 79. UMBC--Johnson 6-11 4-6 17, Proctor 7-11 3-4 17, Greene 1-6 2-3 5, Hodges 8-15 4-4 27, Barbosa 5-12 8-9 21, Spadafora 0-5 2-2 2, Fry 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 27-61 23-28 89. Halftime--UMBC 35-34. 3-point goals--GW 5-15 (Hollis 2-4, Alexander 1-2, Moore 1-3, Wilmore 1-3, Beatty 0-1, Witherspoon 0-2), UMBC 12-25 (Hodges 7-10, Barbosa 3-6, Johnson 1-2, Greene 1-5, Spadafora 0-2). Rebounds--GW 32 (Hollis 8), UMBC 42 (Proctor 13). Assists--GW 12 (Beatty 3), UMBC 21 (Greene 10). Total fouls--GW 19, UMBC 21. Technical--GW bench. A--2,312.

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