UMBC runs out of time, loses lead, game to Radford, 89-88


This one will go down hard with the University of Maryland Baltimore County basketball team.

The Retrievers had future Big South Conference rival Radford on the ropes last night at the UMBC Fieldhouse, but couldn't apply the knockout punch.

And, in the end, they wasted five seconds before getting a timeout with the clock expiring and lost, 89-88, to the Highlanders before 1,114.

The ball bounced around in the UMBC backcourt after Radford's 6-foot-3 Stephen Barber scored the winning basket with eight seconds left, his second straight score on a post-up move against 6-0 Skip Saunders.

By the time the Retrievers got the clock stopped, they had wasted five seconds, and their subsequent desperation play did not produce a shot attempt.

"You can do a lot more things with eight seconds than with three," said UMBC coach Earl Hawkins. "These situations we can learn from, but we have to start. I guess our guys just froze for a moment."

The game was like old-home week with Hawkins' nephew, Chris, starting at point guard for Radford and nine Prince George's County players on the court, five for UMBC.

Guard Doug Day, No. 5 scorer in Radford history, scored 20 first-half points and finished with 33, 24 of them on three-pointers to set a UMBC Fieldhouse record.

But UMBC stayed on even terms through the first half until the Highlanders went on a 15-3 run to go ahead by 11 at the half. This stretch, Hawkins said, cost his team the game.

"We didn't come out and play hard, and then in the last couple minutes, we let them get that big lead," he said. "That was the difference. It's very disappointing."

But the Retrievers came out strongly at the start of the second half, executed a 21-7 tear and went ahead, 61-58. From there it was a topsy-turvy game in which Radford won despite losing three players on fouls and center Tom Gallaher to a recurring ankle injury.

Longtime Maryland assistant Ron Bradley, in his first year as Radford's head coach, said his team had "a mismatch" at the finish with Barber.

"Steve's only 6-3, but he's probably our best post-up player," said Bradley. "And he's a tremendous leader."

Hawkins said the problem was that center Sony Nixon should have "given Skip [Saunders] some help. But he fell for what they were doing. He's only a sophomore."

The obvious choice was Day, who fires from anywhere at any time. "He had a strong game after being in a little bit of a slump," said Bradley. "We usually use him as a decoy at the end."

Brian Watkins scored a career-high 26 points for the Retrievers, 20 of them in the second half as he sparked the comeback.

Dana Harris had 14 assists for the Retreivers to set a school record, but it wasn't enough as the team dropped its seventh in the past eight games.

Asked if the game had special significance because of the Big South angle, Hawkins said: "We just need a win, period. It doesn't matter who it's against."

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