Men's Hoops Snaps Skid, Stop Spartans

Men's Hoops Snaps Skid, Stop Spartans
Damien Dwaine was all style, Mohawk and sideburns included, in scoring a career-high 15 points. Photo by Joel Auerbach

MIAMI SHORES, Fla. -- Barry University found an answer to stop the skid, and the Buccaneers added a new wrinkle to their game.

Barry ended a five-game losing streak in the Sunshine State Conference with a 75-66 win over Tampa Saturday at home. It also helped the Bucs put to rest a stretch where they had won just one of their past six games.

Damien Dwaine scored a career-high 15 points, going 6 of 7 from the floor, and grabbed eight rebounds and had three steals in a breakout game for the sophomore forward from Weston, Fla.

"It feels really good, but it doesn't feel as good as getting this 'W,' which we really needed," Dwaine said. "The 'W' is all that matters. This game, career-highs, I mean anytime anyone gets it, it is a confidence booster. It's just surreal."

The Bucs (8-8, 2-5 SSC) jumped out of the league basement with a much-needed victory. Tampa (13-6, 1-6 SSC) now occupies the spot at the bottom of the conference standings.

Barry shot 66.7 percent from the floor in the second half, ending a trend that had plagued the Bucs in recent weeks when, after building a lead, they tapered off and let opponents back into the game. Not this time. In fact, the Buccaneers put together a stronger second half in this game than they had since November, and finished the game shooting 52.1 percent from the floor on 25 of 48 field goals.

The Bucs built a 12-point lead when Filip Toric knocked down his second triple of the game with 9:06 to play in the first half. But Tampa used a 10-3 run in which Barry failed to hit a field goal over a 7:29 span to pull the Spartans within five at the close of the first half.

Tampa took the lead at the 18:21 mark of the second half when Vincent Cornu sank two free throws. Barry's Justin McCoy, who extended his double figure scoring streak to 15 games, scored less than a minute later to put the Buccaneers in front, 32-30.

Toric's jumper in the paint with 12:14 to go extended Barry's lead to nine, 41-32, to cap a 9-2 run. Dwaine increased the lead to 13 when he scored off a three-quarter court pass from McCoy. Dwaine hit another hoop at the 6:31 mark to give Barry its largest lead, 51-36.

Tampa's Da'Markco Foster kept his team in it with a three-pointer with 1:59 left on the clock as the Spartans cut it to nine. Foster canned another three 21 seconds later to pull Tampa within eight. Then he knocked down a three and was fouled with 59 seconds remaining. Foster converted the four-point play to bring the Spartans within seven.

But Chad Renfro and Aaron Martin each sank two free throws, and McCoy hit one of two in the final 29 seconds as Barry held on.

"It was nice to see us playing close to 40 minutes," Bucs assistant coach Ryan Saunders said. "For the most part, we played as close to a complete game as possible. At least as close as we have all year."

Toric finished with 13 points, four steals and two blocks. He was 5 of 8 from the floor. McCoy had 12 points, three assists, two steals and a block. Renfro finished with 13 points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal before fouling out. Martin and Magne Fivelstad each scored eight points, and Fivelstad grabbed five boards, had three assists, a block and a steal.

Foster finished with 34 points for the Spartans -- the most for an opponent against the Buccaneers all year. He was 11 of 23 from the field, including 6 of 15 from beyond the arc. Anthony Griffis had 14 points and five boards.

Barry outscored Tampa, 36-14, in the paint. The Bucs forwards combined for 44 points.

"That's one of the things we've been lacking, and one of the things we've been working on the last few days in practice is to get the ball inside," Saunders said. "We refocused, and told guys like Magne and Damien and Filip to post-up. If those guys can continue to at least post-up and draw a crowd, it'll open up things for other guys."

Barry will close out the first half of conference play on the road Wednesday at Nova Southeastern.

"We want to get as far away from the last place (in the SSC) as we possibly can so we can start building and start getting up to a higher seed come tournament time," Dwaine said. "We feel we can compete with any team in our conference, and we have a lot to prove still."