Campbell rallies by Gardner-Webb to win Big South Opener

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Chris Clemons scored 20 of his game-high 27 points in the second half and Campbell rallied to defeat Gardner-Webb 72-61 in the Big South opener for both teams Saturday at Gore Arena.

Jordan Whitfield came off the bench to score a career-high 13 points, including 3-of-4 threes, while Andrew Eudy turned in a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, plus five assists for the Camels (8-7, 1-0), who committed just one turnover in the second period.

David Efianayi led five Runnin’ Bulldogs in double digits with 18 points, but his team’s eight-game win streak ended after GWU (10-6, 0-1) shot just 35 percent and made 10 turnovers in the final period. Jose Perez added 15 points, D.J. Laster 14 plus 10 rebounds, and Nate Johnson 11 points for the Runnin’ Bulldogs, who led by as many as eight.

After Efianayi’s bucket put the visitors in front 49-42 with 10:33 to play, Ja’Cor Nelson’s basket started a decisive 19-5 run for the Camels. Clemons had 10 points in the burst, while Gardner-Webb missed five shots and made four turnovers in the span.

Laster made a pair of free throws to put GWU in front 51-49 with 8:08 to play, but Eudy’s bucket tied the score to start a 12-0 burst and Nelson’s follow gave the Camels a 61-51 edge with 3:43 to play.

Gardner-Webb twice pulled within five – the last time on Laster’s tip-in with 36 seconds to play, but the Camels made 8-of-10 from the stripe in the final 58 seconds to seal the win.

Campbell finished with an 18-6 edge in points off turnovers and the CU bench outscored Gardner-Webb’s reserves 21-3, thanks to Whitfield and Isaac Chatman, who had eight points and drew a pair of charges.

Clemons, who is the nation’s leading scorer at 29.3 points per game, made 7-of-15 shots in the final period and dealt three assists, while playing 38 minutes without a turnover. Now with 2,672 points in 112 games, Clemons moved by David Robinson of Navy (2,669 from 1983-87) into 25th place on the all-time Division I scoring list. He scored in double figures for the 97th-straight game, the longest stretch among active D1 players and fourth-longest all-time.

Whitfield, whose previous career high (12) came in Campbell’s win last year at Boiling Springs, added three assists in 23 minutes off the bench.

Gardner-Webb, which defeated Georgia Tech and Wake Forest in its 8-game streak, shot 39.6 percent for the game, 35 percent (9-26) in the second half. Campbell finished the day shooting 41.3 percent from the floor (26-63), made 10-of-33 from 3-point range, and had 16 assists to only six turnovers.

Campbell returns to action Thursday in a 7 p.m. tipoff at Gore Arena against Winthrop in a game that will be televised by ESPNU.

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