Sometimes, that standby coaches' adage about learning from losing is true.
At least it was yesterday for the UMBC men's basketball team, which turned the tables on a bad memory in beating visiting Monmouth, 62-58.
Kennedy Okafor scored the final five points for UMBC, which earned its 12th straight victory in the Northeast Conference and eighth straight overall.
With a little more than 10 minutes remaining in the game, the Retrievers (13-5, 12-0) were trailing 49-39 after a three-point basket by Monmouth's Sean Collins. The Hawks (0-18, 0-12) were making nearly every shot available to them; they ended up shooting 73 percent in the second half.
And that's when the Navy game emerged. Far enough in the past for everyone to forget except those in the huddle of UMBC coach Tom Sullivan, the Retrievers were ahead of the Mids by 15 points in the Dec. 23 game with eight minutes remaining, only to lose the lead, then the game, 72-69.
The moral that no lead is safe cuts both ways, as Sullivan told his team during a timeout not long after Collins' jumper.
"I made reference to that Navy game," Sullivan said. "[The Mids] decided that they weren't going to lose. I remember that game vividly, and I know that our players do. We took from that game the positive that you can will yourself to win."
So, from the 10: 15 mark yesterday, UMBC chipped away -- a jumper by Isaac Green here, a three-pointer by Terence Ward there. Ward's 12 points were a team high.
With 6: 31 remaining, Monmouth was ahead 54-47 after a free throw by Maurice Williams, who led all scorers with 15 points. But already, those easy shots that the Hawks were sinking early in the game were becoming no shots.
"We were trying to find a way to score," Monmouth coach Dave Calloway said. "We were up 54-47, then we start turning the ball over and we couldn't find a way to score. We just couldn't make a play."
Tim Hyland's three-pointer with 5: 51 left and his free throw 65 seconds later brought UMBC within a basket, setting the stage for Kerry Martin's three-point play that gave the Retrievers a 55-54 lead with 2: 39 remaining.
Martin, a junior from Mays Landing, N.J., was one of the players in a position to empathize with Monmouth, which is mired in a 21-game losing streak that is the nation's longest.
As a freshman, Martin played on a UMBC team that won five games.
"I just told No. 23 [Alpha Bangura] to hang strong, because they have a lot of talent," Martin said. "They've played a couple of other teams tough, so they're not as bad as their [record] indicates."
On a team on which everyone had something to prove against a team that had beaten it by 20 in West Long Branch, N.J., Andre Williams, in particular, was showing the symptoms of motivation.
"Man, this one really hurts," he said after a 12-point performance.
A freshman who chose Monmouth over UMBC, Williams scored six points in the first four minutes as his team took an 8-3 lead with 6: 10 remaining.
The Hawks remained in control until Okafor's layup with 10: 01 left in the first half gave UMBC lead it would retain for the rest of the period. Green capped a 6-0 run with a layup as the Retrievers took a 22-15 lead with 5: 32 remaining.
Leading 30-22 at halftime, UMBC didn't hold its advantage long. Maurice Williams and Bangura (12 points) led the Hawks as they outscored the Retrievers 25-9 over the first 10 minutes of the second half, taking the lead at 38-36 on a Bangura basket with 13: 50 remaining.
In defeat, Monmouth was defiant.
"We thought tonight was a win," Maurice Williams said. "Next game, we're going in with the same mentality."
MONMOUTH -- Bangura 5-14, 2-5, 12, A. Williams 6-6 0-2 12, Bridgemohan 4-6 1-1 9, Collins 2-5 0-0 6, M. Williams 5-10 5-8 15, Carter 0-1 0-0 0, Faulkner 0-0 0-0 0, Hayes 0-1 0-0 0, Potkay 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 24-47 8-16 58.
UMBC -- Green 4-7 1-2 9, Martin 1-3 0-1 2, Grella 3-3 2-2 8, Ward 4-11 0-0 12, Harrison 2-4 1-2 7, Giddens 0-3 0-0 0, Hyland 3-6 1-2 0, Womble 0-1 0-0 0, Okafor 4-6 1-1 9, Martin 2-3 2-4 6. Totals 23-47 8-14 62.
Halftime--Monmouth 36-32. 3-point goals--M 2-7 (Bangura 0-1, Collins 2-4, A. Williams 0-1, Hayes 0-1), UMBC 8-18 (Ward 4-9, Harrison 2-2, Giddens 0-2, Hyland 2-5) Fouled out--A. Williams, Potkay, Okafor. Rebounds--M 25 (M. Williams 8) UMBC 32 (Grella, Okafor 6). Assists--M 13 (M. Williams 7), UMBC 17 (Hyland 4). Total fouls--M 20, UMBC 20. A--1,602.
Pub Date: 1/24/99