December 3, 2011

Short-handed Campbell rallies to defeat High Point 72-62

BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Darren White scored 28 points and Campbell rallied to defeat High Point 72-62 in Big South Conference men's basketball action Saturday at Gore Arena.

Playing the final 24:56 without the league's leading scorer Eric Griffin, who left the game with a deep cut on his right hand, the Camels overcame a 9-point deficit with 16:42 to go and improved to 7-1 overall, 2-0 in the Big South.

Freshman guard Trey Freeman added 15 points and 9 assists, while Marvelle Harris and Rico Ferguson chipped in 8 each for the Camels, who held the Panthers (2-5, 0-1) to 38 percent shooting on the game.

Corey Law led High Point with a career-high 21 points, plus 15 rebounds, while Nick Barbour added 15 on 4-of-18 shooting.

Griffin, who entered the contest averaging 19.4 points per game, had 4 points and 3 rebounds before leaving the game with 4:56 left in the first period with a cut on his right hand that required 14 stitches to close.

Campbell entered the game as the nation's leader in team field goal percentage (.546), but suffered through its worst shooting half of the season in the first frame.  The Camels hit season lows for points and field goal accuracy (.357) in a half and trailed 31-29 at the break.

High Point scored the first 7 points of the second half and led 38-29 when Branimir Mikulic hit a three from the right corner with 16:42 to play.  However, the Camels answered with a 12-2 run.

The lead changed hands nine times and the score was tied on four occasions in the second half alone before the Camels made a final push.  White's lay-up put Campbell ahead for good (57-55) with 4:41 to play.  The junior guard missed his free throw on the 3-point play, but Harris rebounded and Ryan knocked down a triple from the left wing for a 60-55 edge with 4:36 to go.

Travis Elliott's tip-in with 4:07 remaining cut the gap to 60-57, but High Point did not score from the field the rest of the way, missing its final five field goal attempts.  Barbour hit 2-of-3 from the line with 3:45 to play to narrow the gap to 60-59, but White answered with a pair of foul shots on the other end.

Xavier Martin's free throws cut the gap to 68-62 with 48 seconds remaining, but the Panther turned the ball over on their next two possessions.  White's dunk in transition pushed the lead to 72-62 with 23 seconds remaining – the largest margin of the game.

"This was just a character win for our club," said Campbell head coach Robbie Laing.  "To lose Eric early on and have Marvelle in foul trouble for most of the first half, we got some big plays from guys who we normally don't expect to make them.  Andrew Ryan hit a couple of big threes and Rico Ferguson held Nick Barbour to 4-of-18 from the field, which doesn't show up in his offensive stats.  We kept our composure and showed signs of maturing a little bit."

Campbell shot 52 percent (14-27) from the floor in the final period while holding High Point to 33 percent shooting over the same span.  In the second half alone, White scored 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting (2-of-2 threes), plus 4-of-5 from the line.

A junior from Danville, Va., White finished the game 10-of-15 from the field, 2-of-3 from 3-point range, and 6-of-7 from the stripe with 7 rebounds and 3 blocks.  Ferguson hit all 6 of his foul shots and grabbed 8 rebounds, while dealing 5 assists.

Campbell ended the game shooting 43.6 percent (24-55) from the floor, but hit 5-of-8 threes and 19-of-28 from the line while holding a 42-34 edge on the boards.  High Point made 22-of-58 shots (.379), but only 5-of-25 from 3-point territory (.200) and 13-of-20 (.650) from the stripe.

Each of High Point's five games against Division I competition has been decided by 12 points, or less, including a 67-65 loss at Purdue on Nov. 14.

Campbell improved to 5-0 at Gore Arena this season, while High Point dropped to 0-3 on the road.  CU's 7-1 record to start the season is its best since joining NCAA Division I in 1977-78.

After a week-long break for final exams, Campbell returns to action next Saturday at home against Methodist at 1:00 p.m.