Camels hold off Gardner-Webb 74-68 to improve to 8-1 at home

Rico Ferguson (3) and Darren White (4)
(photo by Bennett Scarborough)
Rico Ferguson (3) and Darren White (4) (photo by Bennett Scarborough)

BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Campbell outscored Gardner-Webb 12-6 over the final 4:32 and defeated the Bulldogs 74-68 Saturday at Gore Arena.

The Fighting Camels (11-8, 5-2 Big South) improved to 8-1 at home this year behind four double figure scorers led by Darren White (18), who hit 6-of-9 from the floor and 4-of-6 from the line.  Trey Freeman added 14 points, Rico Ferguson 12 (5-of-7 from the field) and Eric Griffin 10 for CU, which shot 54 percent from the field.

Lorne Merthie came off the bench to add 8 points and a season-high 7 assists with no turnovers in 21 minutes for Campbell, which converted 13 Gardner-Webb miscues into a 16-5 edge in points off turnovers.

Max Landis led Gardner-Webb (9-11, 4-4) with 18 points.  Tashan Newsome added 17 and Tyler Strange 13 for the Bulldogs, who tied the score at 62 on Strange's 3-point play with 4:40 to go.  Each of GWU's eight Big South games this year has been decided by 6 points or less.

Back-to-back threes by Merthie and White gave the Camels their largest lead (55-46) with 12:52 remaining.  However, GWU reeled off 10 unanswered points, capped by Strange's trey from the right corner and took a 56-55 edge with 8:54 remaining.

Down the stretch, Campbell broke 62-62 tie with 8-straight points and led 70-62 with 2:44 to play following Griffin's triple from the top of the key.  The Camels missed on their next 3 shots and GWU pulled within 70-68 on Landis' triple with 21 seconds remaining.

Freeman and Merthie sealed the win by hitting both ends of two-shot chances in the last 13 seconds.

"Gardner-Webb is a tough, gritty bunch and we just couldn't get away from them today," said Campbell head coach Robbie Laing.  "But the atmosphere was great again and we did enough down the stretch.  We can't win this game today without the support of our crowd."

Gardner-Webb made 26-of-57 shots (.456) from the floor, only 9-of-16 (.563) from the line, but stayed close by turning 15 offensive boards into 14 second-chance points.  Campbell, however, made only 8 turnovers (its second-fewest of the year) and hit 7-of-11 threes (.636), plus 13-of-21 (.610) from the stripe.

Campbell hit 10 of its first 15 shots, including 7 in a row and led by as many as seven (28-21) in the opening period.  However, GWU converted 9 offensive rebounds into 9 second-chance points and the Bulldogs trailed 35-32 at the break.

The Camels hit 54 percent (14-26) of their shots in the opening half, including 4-of-5 threes.  White made all 5 of his opening period field goals and had 13 points before the break.  Newsome scored 10 first-half points for Gardner-Webb.

Campbell returns to action Tuesday in a 7:00 p.m. tip-off at Winthrop.