Thursday, December 15, 2011

HBU Tops Campbell, 87-76, for Cottrell’s 400th Victory

Freshman guard Marcel Smith leads Huskies with 14 points.
HOUSTON, TEXAS (December 15, 2011) Houston Baptist freshman guard Marcel Smith had 14 points to lead six Huskies in double figures as HBU ran past Campbell, 87-76, and gave head coach Ron Cottrell his 400th career victory Wednesday night at Sharp Gym. Cottrell extended his lead as HBU’s winningest basketball coach to 172 more than any of his predecessors.

Smith went 3-of-7 from the field, including a 3-pointer, and went 7-of-7 from the free-throw line for the Huskies (4-6), who have won back-to-back games for the first time since their Great West Conference Tournament final appearance in March 2010. Junior forward Marcus Davis and freshman guard Ronald March Jr. added 12 points apiece, with Davis adding five rebounds.

Junior forward Art Bernardi and junior guard Anthony Hill each chipped in with 10 points, and Bernardi also had six rebounds and four assists. Senior forward Terry Bembry was huge for HBU off the bench, contributing his best effort of the season with nine points, a team-high eight rebounds, three steals and a pair of blocks.

Eric Griffin went 6-of-12 from the field and 9-of-12 from the free-throw line to lead Campbell (8-2) with 21 points and pulled down eight rebounds, while Trey Freeman shot 8-of-13 and finished with 19 points. Darren White, the nation’s 10th-leading scorer, posted a double-double with 18 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and three steals, but was held to only 6-of-14 shooting.

HBU shot 51.7 percent from the field, its best of the season, including 7-of-16 from behind the arc, while Campbell shot 45.6 percent from the field, but only 5-of-15 from long range. The Huskies also hit 74.1 percent (20-of-27) from the free-throw line, while the Camels shot only 61.3 percent (19-of-31). Campbell outrebounded HBU, 36-33, but turned the ball over three more times, 18-15.

Campbell led 8-5 in the early going, but HBU scored seven-straight points, started by a pair of Bernardi jumpers and capped by a Jonathan Evans 3-pointer, to go up 12-8 at the 13:54 mark. The Huskies extended its advantage to six on March’s three-point play on a reverse layup with 11:33 left, and Smith added a three-point play after the Fighting Camels had gotten back to within one. Freeman answered with a three-point play of his own, then Wright tied the game at 20 by hitting the front end of a one-and-one with 8:44 remaining, but March nailed a trey to put HBU back on top.

Hill restored HBU’s six-point lead with a 3-pointer, but Freeman came back with a pair of jumpers to get Campbell back within two. Hill drilled another three to give the Huskies a 35-30 lead with 4:22 to go in the half, and they pushed the lead to as many as seven on a couple of occasions before Lorne Merthie’s jumper at the buzzer trimmed HBU’s halftime lead 40-38.

Wright opened the second half with a three to put Campbell up by one, but Smith answered back with a three for HBU on the other end. Davis’ dunk on an alley-oop from Smith broke a tie, but Horton hit a three and a Freeman dunk gave the Camels a 50-47 lead with 17:15 to go.

Bembry sparked the Huskies to a 9-0 run over the next two-and-a-half minutes with a layup, a pair of rebounds and a steal, to take a 56-50 lead. After Campbell broke the drought on a Wright jumper, Evans drained a three from the corner to put HBU up by eight. March’s three with 13:06 left put the Huskies ahead, 65-56, but Griffin’s three-point play with 7:32 on the clock sliced the Camels’ deficit to four.

Russell’s jumper with 6:09 left in the game gave the Huskies their largest lead of the game at 75-65, and although HBU was held scoreless for the next four minutes, the Fighting Camels were able to close only to within five. Davis hit baseline jumper with 1:56 remaining and Smith hit a pair of free throws to put HBU back up by nine.

Over the final minute, the Huskies went 8-of-8 from the free-line and Bernardi’s breakaway slam with 28 seconds left put an exclamation point on Cottrell’s milestone victory.

The Huskies return to action when they hit the road to face 24th-ranked Creighton Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.

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