Camels rally past Winthrop 67-58 on Senior Night

2012 CU seniors (L-R): Amir Celestin, Eric Griffin, head coach Robbie Laing, Loren Merthie (photo by Bennett Scarborough)
2012 CU seniors (L-R): Amir Celestin, Eric Griffin, head coach Robbie Laing, Loren Merthie (photo by Bennett Scarborough)

BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Campbell went on a 20-4 run late in the second half and defeated Winthrop 67-58 Thursday on Senior Night at Gilbert Craig Gore Arena.

Lorne Merthie led Campbell (17-11, 11-5 Big South) with 14 points in his final home game and became the 25th player in Campbell history to reach the 1,000 career-point barrier.  Fellow senior Eric Griffin added 11 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks. 

Trey Freeman added 12, plus 5 assists and Darren White 10 for the Camels, who won their second-straight and for the third time in the last four games.

Winthrop (10-16, 7-8) used a 10-0 run to take its largest lead of the game (47-40) when James Bourne made the second of two free throws with 9:57 to go.

Marvelle Harris' back-door layup off Andrew Ryan's feed started the decisive burst on the following possession; then Merthie canned a three to pull CU within 47-45 with 8:10 to play.  Freeman grabbed a defensive rebound; then went coast-to-coast for a pull-up in the paint to tie the score with 6:49 to go.

Griffin's jumper from the right baseline gave the Camels the lead for good (51-49) with 5:50 remaining and CU extended the gap to 60-51 on Freeman's bucket with 3:15 to go.  Winthrop, which had only 3 turnovers during the first 32 minutes of play, suffered 6 miscues over the last 7:42, starting with an offensive foul by George Valentine.

Andre Jones led Winthrop, which made only 32.8 percent (20-61) from the field, with 19 points – 14 in the second half.  Reggie Middleton added 16 and Matt Morgan 11 (8 boards).  Valentine pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds (5 on the offensive end).

Campbell, which entered the game ranked 3rd in the country in team field goal percentage (.500), made 57 percent of its attempts (24-42) on the night, 63 percent (12-19) in the second half.

CU built a 10-point lead in the first half when Griffin's follow dunk capped an 18-4 run to give the Camels a 24-14 edge with 3:52 to play.

The Eagles missed 18 of their first 22 shots and hit only 25.7 percent in the first half, but trailed by only 6 (30-24) at the break by committing just two turnovers.  Campbell shot 52.2 percent in the first half (12-23), but made 7 miscues.

A guard from Sanford, Fla., Merthie's three-pointer with 11:36 to go in the first half pushed him over the 1,000-point mark in his 102nd career game.  Celestin, who hails from Miami and played on the same Florida Rams AAU club as Merthie, made his first start of the year and scored CU's first 6 points of the game.

Campbell won for the 11th time in 13 home games this season at Gore Arena.  The Camels swept the season series from the Eagles, following a 54-51 triumph Jan. 17 at Rock Hill, S.C., where they trailed by as many as 13 in the opening half.

The Camels return to action on Sat., Feb. 18 in a Sears BracketBuster game at Northwestern (La.) State.