Camels hold off Bulldogs 61-60

Hayley Barber (scarboroughphotography.com)
Hayley Barber (scarboroughphotography.com)

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BUIES CREEK, N.C. --- Bronaza Fitzgerald's attempt at the game-winning jumper at the buzzer rolled off the front of the rim as Campbell claimed a narrow 61-60 win over UNC Asheville Saturday at Gore Arena. Hayley Barber led three Camels in double-figures with a career-high 15 points and Hannah Long tallied her first career double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

After leading by as many as 15 in the first half, Campbell's (17-6, 9-3 BSC) advantage was cut to 60-58 after Jessica Wall drained a three pointer for the Bulldogs (11-12, 5-7) with just 12 seconds left to play. Summer Price was fouled on the ensuing inbounds and hit one of two free throws to put the Camels up 61-58 with 10 seconds on the clock.

Following a timeout, Wall was fouled and sent to the line with three seconds left to play. She hit the first shot to cut the deficit to two, but her second shot rimmed out. Long and Fitzgerald fought for the rebound, and after both went to the ground, Long was whistled for a technical foul for a dead ball play. Webb stepped to the line to take the technical free throws but could only convert one of two to cut the deficit to 61-60 with 1.7 showing the clock.

By virtue of the technical, UNCA received the basketball under its own basket and had a chance to convert the winning basket. The ball was inbounded to Fitzgerald at the top of the key, she took a step towards the goal and put up a floater towards the rim. The shot hit the right side of the rim as time expired and fell to the ground to seal the Camel victory, the second this season over the defending league champions and preseason favorites.

Barber finished 6-of-11 from the field and hit a career-high three three-pointers. Price, the Camels' leading scorer, tallied 10 points and had a game-high four assists while Brianna Cribb and Bria Emanuel added seven points each.

Campbell still remains in at least a two-way tie for first in the Big South standings with Radford's win at Charleston Southern Saturday. The Camels shot .522 (24-for-46) from the field for their third game surpassing the .500 shooting plateau. Campbell out-scored Asheville 36-22 in the paint and held a narrow 32-28 rebounding advantage. Despite the close finish, CU led the contest wire-to-wire.

Three Bulldogs also finished in double-figures led by Chatori Major's game-high 17 points. Wall added 15 points while Khaila Webb finished with 12. KJ Weaver led UNCA on the boards with 11 rebounds while Fitzgerald added nine. The Camels held the Bulldogs to .423 shooting from the field (22-for-52).

Campbell raced out to an early 11-0 lead midway through the first period with the help of trays from Barber and Caroline Bowns. Long ended the opening stanza with an exclamation point with a layup at the buzzer to put the Camels up 21-11. UNCA was able to cut the deficit to six late in the frame but seven points from Price in the first helped Campbell take a double-digit advantage to the second.

CU's largest lead of the game came at 27-12 off a layup from long with 7:05 on the clock. Following that basket, the Bulldogs went on a 15-2 run and closed the gap to 29-27 with two minutes to play before halftime. Back-to-back layups from Alyshia Allison and MaKala Rouse put the Camels back up by six, and it was a six-point halftime advantage at 35-29 with Emanuel hit a tough contested layup with nine seconds remaining before the break.

Campbell only regained a double-digit advantage once in the second half. A three by Wall 11 seconds into the third period cut the deficit to 35-32 and it was still just a three-point advantage at 44-41 when she hit a layup with 2:51 showing on the clock. However, the Camels ended the third period on a 6-0 run and Emanuel once again set the tone for CU with a bucket at the buzzer to send Campbell to the fourth with a 50-41 lead.

Barber hit a three just over a minute into the final frame to put CU up 53-43. The Bulldogs responded with an 8-0 spurt and only trailed 53-51 with five minutes to play. Campbell was able to stretch the margin out to five three times through the final minutes of action but Wall's three late in the contest set up for the wild finish.

Saturday was Campbell's annual Play 4 Kay game to support women's cancer research through the Kay Yow Foundation. The Camels wore pink jerseys for the contest and recognized cancer survivors and fighters during pregame introductions. Donations were taken for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund and surpassed $1,000.

The Camels will return to action Tuesday on the road at Winthrop looking for the season-sweep of the Eagles.