Campbell’s men’s basketball team continued its strong start to the season over the Thanksgiving weekend, winning two out of three games at the Hilton Garden Inn Florida Gulf Coast Classic.
Ike Smith led five Georgia Southern players in double figures with 21 points and the Eagles defeated Campbell 84-74 Friday in the opening game at Alico Arena.
Isaiah Crawley (17), Elijah McCadden (13), Quan Jackson (12) and Simeon Carter (10) also hit double figures for Georgia Southern, which extended its win streak to three games.
Austin McCullough came off the bench to score a career-high 16 points for Campbell, which saw its two-game win streak halted. Ja’Cor Nelson added 14 points and five assists; Cedric Henderson tallied 12 points on 6-of-6 field goals, while Joshua Lusane added 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
The Camels led 20-12 when Lusane scored underneath with 9:11 left in the opening half, but Georgia Southern cut the deficit to 35-34 at the break.
In a game where the lead changed 11 times, Georgia Southern went in front for good (55-54) on Smith’s bucket with 10:02 remaining. The Eagles held off Campbell’s comeback attempt by making 11-of-13 free throws in the final 2:03.
Campbell shot 50 percent (29-58) from the floor, but made just 4-of-22 from 3-point distance. Georgia Southern shot just 41 percent (25-61) from the field and hit just 5-of-16 threes, but made 14 more free throws (29-38) than the Camels attempted (12-15).
The Eagles finished with a 20-6 edge in points off turnovers and a 33-5 edge in second-chance points. Campbell out-scored Georgia Southern 48-38 in the paint, while the Camel bench finished with a 31-15 edge over the Eagle reserves.
Nice bounce back
In the team’s best defensive performance in at least 15 years, Campbell defeated Florida Gulf Coast 51-46 Saturday night.
Campbell held the host Eagles to no field goals over the final 6:17 of the game, just 13.3 percent shooting (4-30) in the second half and 21.8 percent overall (12-55) from the floor on the night.
After Jalen Warren tied the game on a 3-point play with 6:18 remaining, FGCU missed its final 11 shots from the floor. In the meantime, LaDarius Knight scored five points in an 8-0 Camel burst that gave the Camels a 49-41 edge with 3:02 to go. FGCU eventually trimmed the gap to 49-46 on Zach Scott’s three free throws with seven seconds remaining, but Austin McCullough made both ends of a one-and-one with six ticks left for the final margin.
The defensive effort was Campbell’s best in seven seasons under head coach Kevin McGeehan and the first time the Camels held a Division I foe below 30 percent shooting since Jan. 17, 2012 when Winthrop made just 29.8 percent of its attempts in a 54-51 Camel victory at Rock Hill, S.C.
Cedric Henderson (seven rebounds) and Trey Spencer (six rebounds, three assists) led Campbell with 10 points each. Knight finished with eight points for the Camels, who shot 38 percent (18-47) from the field, made 6-of-18 threes and 9-of-11 from the line.
FGCU hit just 3-of-25 (.120) from 3-point distance, but made 19-of-22 (.864) from the line.
In a game that featured nine lead changes and six ties, neither team led by more than five until Knight’s lay-in with 3:29 to play that extended CU’s margin to 47-41.
Malik Hardy came off the bench to lead FGCU with 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Warren finished with 10 points.
For the second-straight day, Campbell rode a strong defensive effort to pick up a win.
Over the final 5:33 Sunday, the Camels limited North Dakota to just 1-of-4 shooting from the floor and forced three turnovers to earn a 58-56 victory at Alico Arena. Campbell, which has won four of its last five outings, finished with a 2-1 record in the three-day event.
Cedric Henderson Jr. scored a season-high 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting, Messiah Thompson added 10 points and Joshua Lusane added all eight of his points in the second half as the Camels ended UND’s three-game win streak.
After Filip Rebraca’s jumper tied the score at 51 with 2:03 to play, Henderson made a pair of free throws with 1:47 left; then scored in the paint to push the lead to 55-51 with 1:16 remaining. Marlon Stewart pulled the Fighting Hawks (4-5) within 55-54 with 10 seconds to play, but missed the second of two from the line.
Lusane then converted twice from the stripe with six seconds to go. After Stewart made two more free throws with 0:04 remaining, Thompson hit the first; then missed the second from the line with two ticks to go. Kienan Walter rebounded, but North Dakota could not get off a shot before time expired.
In a game that included eight lead changes and eight ties, the Camels led 36-29 when Jesús Carralero knocked down a three with 13:50 to play. UND, however, responded with a 7-0 burst to knot the score.
Campbell shot 40 percent (20-55) from the floor, made 7-of-16 threes (44 percent) and 7-of-9 from the line (.779), but committed only eight turnovers.
UND hit 45 percent of its shots (20-44), 4-of-17 triples (24 percent) and 12-of-16 (.750) from the stripe, but had 18 turnovers.
Campbell’s bench outscored the UND reserves 23-3.
The Camels (6-2) are off to their best start since 2011. Leading the way has been FGCU Classic All-Tournament Team selection Cedric Henderson, who’s averaging a team-high 11.1 points per game. Henderson, a sophomore transfer from Southwest Tennessee Community College, currently leads the nation in true shooting percentage (83.1 percent).
After a break for final exams, Campbell returns to action Dec. 14 at East Carolina in a 4 p.m. tipoff.