BUIES CREEK — Gardner-Webb weathered a late Campbell rally and held on for a 67-65 win Thursday night in the Big South Conference opener for both teams at Gore Arena.
Eric Jamison, Jr., scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while Nate Johnson added 17 points and had eight boards for the defending Big South tournament champion Bulldogs (5-8, 1-0), who led by 10 with 7:31 to play.
After Jose Perez (10 points) made his only field goal of the night — a wing three — to give GWU a 57-47 lead, Campbell (9-4, 0-1) hit its next four shots and trimmed the gap to 59-57 on Cory Gensler’s drive with 4:43 to play.
Johnson hit a pair from the line to give GWU a 67-62 edge with 52.5 seconds remaining, but Cedric Henderson, Jr., knocked down a deep three from the top of the key with 44.8 seconds left that brought the Camels within 67-65.
Against pressure defense, Johnson, then lost the handle in the frontcourt and Gensler nabbed his third steal of the night. Jordan Whitfield drove through contact to the rim, but his layup attempt bounced off and out of bounds off a Gardner-Webb player. With 2.3 seconds remaining, Henderson collected the inbounds pass on the right baseline, but his 12-foot jumper bounced off the front of the rim.
Henderson led five Camels in double figures with 14 points, plus four assists. Gensler added 11 points and a team-high six rebounds. Whitfield, Milos Stajcic and Trey Spencer chipped in 10 points apiece for the Camels, who saw their three-game win streak halted.
Campbell finished 24-of-60 (.400) from the field, made 8-of-22 threes (.364) and 9-of-11 (.818) from the line. Gardner-Webb shot 45.5 percent (20-44) from the floor, including 3-of-12 (.250) from 3-point territory, but canned 24-of-29 free throws (.828) and finished with a 39-25 rebounding edge.
The Camels held a 15-7 edge in points off turnovers, 12-0 in the opening half, and forced 19 Gardner-Webb miscues.
Gardner-Webb took its first lead of the night (34-33) on Jamison’s free throw with 18:22 left, but Spencer’s three knotted the score at 47 with 9:49 to play. The Bulldogs then reeled off 10 unanswered points capped by Perez’ wing three with 7:31 remaining.
In the opening half, Campbell jumped to a 13-3 edge and extended its lead to 18-7 on Ja’Cor Nelson’s steal and layup as the Camels scored 12 points off six early GWU turnovers. The Bulldogs answered with a 14-3 flurry and tied the score at 21 on Jamison’s fast break bucket with 6:49 left in the period.
Jamison scored 10 first-half points and the score was tied at 31 after 20 minutes of play. Campbell shot 39 percent (12-31) from the field in the opening period, while GWU hit 46 percent (10-22) of its shots.
The Camels host Winthrop on Saturday at 2 p.m.
(Campbell media services provided the basis for this report)