BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Campbell jumped to a 19-3 lead and never trailed Tuesday night in an 81-62 win over Presbyterian in the first round of the Big South Conference Championship at Gore Arena.
Chris Clemons scored 27 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, dealt 4 assists and made 3 steals to lead the Camels (15-16) to the largest winning margin ever in a Big South tournament first round game.
Seventh-seeded Campbell will face second seed UNC Asheville (23-8) Thursday in the 1:00 p.m. quarterfinal at Rock Hill, S.C.
A first-team all-conference performer who entered the game sixth in the nation in scoring (23.1), Clemons made 10-of-14 shots and all five of his free throws. Whitfield had 11 of his points before the break as the Camels made 61.5 percent (16-26) from the field to take a 28-point edge into the dressing room.
Sophomore Darius Moore led Presbyterian with a career-high 21 points – 18 in the second half - on 7-of-14 threes. Senior Ed Drew added 17 points in his final college game.
Presbyterian (5-25) missed nine of its first 10 shots and committed seven turnovers in the first 8:04 of play. Meanwhile, the Camels knocked down 7 of their first 12 attempts and led 19-3 with 11:39 left in the half after Whitfield's layup.
PC made just 22.7 percent (5-22) of its first-period shots and committed 14 of its 19 turnovers in the opening half.
Campbell built the lead to 32 on Whitfield's bucket that pushed the edge to 55-23 with 16:53 to play. The Blue Hose rode a 12-0 flurry and trimmed the gap to 62-45 on Will Adams' free throws with 8:50 remaining.
However, Clemons' pullup triple capped an 11-2 burst and Campbell led by 26 (73-47) before head coach Kevin McGeehan emptied his bench, allowing senior walk-ons Josh Crumpler and Jacob Talbert to play the final minutes in their last game at Gore Arena.
The Camels made five more free throws (23-of-28) than PC attempted (13-of-18) and held the visitors to just 37 percent shooting (19-51) on the evening. Eleven of the 13 Camels who played scored at least two points, including Crumpler, who went 3-of-4 from the line for the first points in his two-year varsity career.
Clemons (1227 points in 60 games) moved past Ron Curtis (1239) into 15th place on Campbell's all-time scoring list (8th in the program's Division I era, since 1977-78). His 697 points this year are second only to 1987 Big South player of the year Clarence Grier's 739 in Campbell single-season history.
Big South Conference Championship
First Round – Tuesday, Feb. 28 – Big South Network/Roku
Game 1: #7 Campbell 81, #10 Presbyterian 62
Game 2: #8 Charleston Southern 79, #9 Longwood 74
Quarterfinals – Thursday, March 2 – ESPN3
at Rock Hill, S.C.
Game 3: #2 UNC Asheville (23-8, 15-3) vs. #7 Campbell, 1:00pm
Game 4: #3 Liberty (19-12, 14-4) vs. #6 Radford (13-17, 8-10), 3:00pm
Game 5: #1 Winthrop (23-6, 15-3) vs. #8 Charleston Southern, 7:00pm
Game 6: #4 Gardner-Webb (18-13, 11-7) vs. #5 High Point (15-15, 9-9), 9:00pm
Semifinals - Friday, March 3 – ESPN3
at Rock Hill, S.C.
Game 7: Semifinals – Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 6:00pm
Game 8: Semifinals – Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 8:00pm
Championship - Sunday, March 5 – ESPN
at Highest Seed
Game 9: Championship – Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 1:00pm