Shooting woes shoot down Campbell in 72-40 loss to Liberty

The Camels shot just 26 percent from the floor and were held to their lowest point total in the nine-year history of Gore Arena

Madeline Gray—North State Journal
Campbell guard Marcus Burk (34) goes up for a basket during the game against Liberty University on Saturday

BUIES CREEK — North Carolina coach Roy Williams like to say that everything always looks better when the ball goes in the basket. Saturday, the Campbell basketball team proved that the opposite is also true. Star guard Chris Clemons struggled to a 2 of 12 performance from beyond the 3-point arc and the Camels shot just 26 percent from the floor and were held to their lowest point total in the nine-year history of Gore Arena on a day in which the two best teams in school history were honored. It was a shooting slump that carried over onto the defensive end, as the visiting Flames shot 65 percent in the second half to run away with a 72-40 victory. “I think in the second half it affected our defense because we were frustrated and having trouble getting a rhythm,” Campbell coach Kevin McGeehan said of his team’s shooting woes, which included a 4 of 25 effort from beyond the 3-point arc. “You get a certain energy when you make a basket — woosh, and all of a sudden you’re ready to guard. It’s just a different energy when you see that thing go through and things are going right, going well. We didn’t have many of those opportunities today.” A lot of that had to do with Liberty and its pack-line defense, which is similar in both style and substance to the game plan coach Ritchie McKay learned when he was an assistant to Tony Bennett at Virginia. The Flames are now 6-0 on the road in Big South play. But it may also just have been one of those days for the usually hot-shooting Camels, who made 10 of 19 3-pointers and shot 56.9 percent overall just two nights earlier in a win at Radford. It didn’t take long into Saturday’s game for Clemons, who came ranked sixth nationally with a scoring average of 23.4 points per game, that he and his teammates might be in for a long day shooting the ball. “It’s frustrating when you’re shooting shots that you always take and they’re rattling in and out pretty much the whole game,” Clemons said after being held to 12 points. “Tonight was just not our night.” And yet, even with the cold shooting and the fact that they were held to 16 first half points, the Camels (11-11, 4-6 Big South) were still only down by seven at halftime — when the school’s 1992 NCAA tournament team and 1977 NAIA national runnerup were honored on their 25th and 40th anniversaries. But while the shots of this year’s Campbell team continued to rim out in the second half, Liberty’s finally began to fall. The Flames (13-10, 8-2) scored on 19 of their final 22 possessions and broke things open by closing out the game on a 34-14 run. As disappointing as the result and the effort that produced it was, Clemons said that his team can’t afford to dwell on either with another game coming up Thursday. “We’re always going to look over every game, good or bad,” he said. “This one is going to be a little harder to look at. We have to see what we’ve got to get better at.”