Unbeaten Camels defeat Iowa 77-61

Cedar Rapids Gazette coverage

IOWA CITY, IOWA – Campbell shot 62 percent from the field and knocked off a BCS conference opponent for the second time in as many years with a 77-61 victory over Iowa Wednesday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The Fighting Camels improved to 5-0 to start the season for the first time since the program joined NCAA Division I in 1977-78 after holding the Hawkeyes (3-2) of the Big Ten Conference to 36 percent shooting on the night.

Eric Griffin led four Camels in double figures with 23 points on 10-of-11 shooting.  The senior forward from Orlando, Fla., added a game-high 13 rebounds and 6 blocked shots.

Darren White contributed 17 points and 5 assists, while Trey Freeman had 15 points on 6-of 12 shooting.  Rico Ferguson added 12 points (8-of-9 from the line), 6 boards and 6 assists for Campbell, which won 61-54 at Auburn in November 2010.

"I keep learning more and more about this team," said ninth-year Campbell head coach Robbie Laing.  "We're extremely young.  The number of minutes these kids have played and the successes they've had tells me a lot about my team.  These kids just think they are supposed to win.  We've got a lot of basketball left to play, but we are making progress."

Matt Gatens led Iowa (3-2) with 17 points.  Roy Devyn Marble came off the bench to score 14.

Campbell shot 60 percent (15-of-25) from the floor in the first half and led by as many as 16.  An 18-4 Campbell run, capped by Griffin's dunk, pushed the advantage to 38-22 with 3:01 left in the period.

However, Iowa closed the stanza on a 9-0 flurry, including 7 points from Matt Gatens, to cut the edge to 38-31 at half-time.

Griffin has 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting with 8 rebounds and 3 blocks in the first period.  White and Ferguson (who had 5 assists) added 8 points apiece before intermission.

Iowa twice pulled within 5 points in the second half, the last time on Andrew Brommer's short jumper that cut the gap to 54-49 with 10:10 remaining.  Brommer's tip-in cut the gap to 62-55 with 4:27 left, but Freeman dished to Griffin for a short jumper, then scored on an old-fashioned 3-point play to push the margin to 67-55 with 3:54 to go and the Hawkeyes never cut the margin to single digits thereafter.

Campbell made 9-of-12 free throws over the last 3:36 and led by as many as 20.

"When we had to have big buckets, we got them," said Laing.  "I couldn't say I saw this coming.  I had just as much curiosity as the fans that came out here tonight.  I don't think this win can do anything but help us.  I don't see us becoming full of ourselves and thinking that we've arrived."

The Camels finished with a 34-29 advantage on the boards and out-scored the taller, deeper Hawkeyes by a 36-30 margin in the paint.  Campbell hit 28-of-45 from the floor, including 65 percent (13-20) in the second half, and made five more free throws (17-of-23) than Iowa attempted (10-of-12).

Iowa shot just 29 percent (10-of-34) in the final stanza and hit only 3-of-11 threes on the night, but could not overcome Campbell, which provided the Big South Conference with its fourth win over a school from a "power" league this year.

In addition to Wednesday's Campbell victory at Iowa, Coastal Carolina has knocked off Louisiana State and Clemson this season, while Presbyterian won last week at 20th-ranked Cincinnati.

Campbell concludes its three-game swing through the Midwest in the Dale Howard Classic on Friday in a 7:05 p.m. (CST) tip-off at 25th-ranked Creighton.  Friday's game will air throughout the Sandhills on WGQR 105.7 FM, the sister station of Campbell's flagship (WCLN 107.3 FM), which is committed to airing the North Carolina state high school playoffs.  Free audio will also be available over the World Wide Web at GoCamels.com with Chris Hemeyer calling the play-by-play.

Campbell at Iowa Notes:

Freeman, who was named Big South Conference freshman of the week on Monday, missed from the foul line for the first time Wednesday at Iowa.  The point guard from Virginia Beach, Va., has made 30-of-31 free throws this year after hitting his first 29 of the year.

Wednesday's game at Iowa marked only the second time Campbell has faced a Big Ten Conference member, including a 67-57 loss Dec. 1, 1997 at Minnesota.

Among the 110 spectators on the Campbell guest list was former Camel forward Kyle Vejraska (2006-10), who is now an assistant coach at Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa.  Also in attendance were the parents of CU assistant coach Brian Burg, a graduate of Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The victory was Campbell's fourth-ever over a "power conference" school.  In addition to last season's 61-54 win at Auburn, Campbell won in the 1993-94 season at North Carolina State and South Carolina.