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Late UMBC run comes up short in loss to UVM

By: Zain Ahmed

KJ Maura followed a 24-point effort against Hartford up with 22 points against Vermont.

For most of the second half the UMBC Retrievers men’s basketball team was being dominated by the visiting Vermont Catamounts, but things drastically changed with three minutes left. The Retrievers embarked on an incredible run over the final three minutes and rallied from 12 down to make it a one-point game with 50 seconds left. However, UMBC was unable to complete the comeback and fell just short, 77-74.

KJ Maura had another incredible game with 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting along with being a perfect 6-for-6 effort from the free throw line. Jairus Lyles started slowly in the first half but turned it up in the second with 12 points, finishing with 14 points in the game while grabbing a team-high six rebounds. Will Darley added 13 points with two made 3-pointers and had five rebounds. Darley broke a school record for consecutive free throws made with 31; a streak going back to an 11-for-11 free throw performance at UMass Lowell on Jan 22.

“We got it going late but there wasn’t enough time to get us out of the hole we dug ourselves into but we’re still learning,” Darley said. “We’re still improving and we’ll be ready next time.”

At the break Vermont was leading, 32-27. The game was closely contested as there were five lead changes. Vermont led at half due to their clear advantage in the rebound battle, leading 23-12 through the first 20 minutes.

UMBC got out to a 9-2 lead. It was capped off by a 3-pointer by Joe Sherburne that prompted a Vermont timeout with 15:55 left in the first half. Vermont rallied after that, going on a nine-point run to take the lead at 13-11 with 11:53 to go in the first half. Neither team could pull away from the other in the first half until there was 1:29 left before the break and Vermont scored five in a row. That spurt was capped off by a layup by Josh Hearlihy with five seconds left to put Vermont up 32-27 at halftime.

The second half did not start smoothly for the Retrievers. Vermont scored the first six points out of the locker room to stretch their lead to 11 points. In some back-and-forth action, Vermont led by 13 with 15:58 left in the second half. Much of the second half was dominated by Vermont as they were able to stretch their lead to as many as 18 points at 62-44 with 6:41 left off a layup by Dre Wills.

UMBC would not go down without a fight, though. They scored five-straight to cut the UVM lead to 13 at 62-49 with 5:44 left. The teams would exchange shots for a few minutes until madness ensued. Following a free throw by Trae Bell-Haynes to make the score 60-57 with 2:32 left. Maura in a flash made a layup to reduce the lead to 10 and sparked an incredible run. Following the basket, Lyles stole the inbound pass and made the layup. UMBC was able to force another turnover and Lyles finished off a fast-break layup to cap off the quick six-point run in just 28 seconds.

Vermont was able to get the lead up to eight but the Retrievers came roaring again as they scored seven straight, including a big time 3-pointer by Lyles to cut the lead to 71-68 before a pair of Maura free throws made it just a one-point game with 50 seconds left.

Vermont made a few free throws to get the lead up to four but a Maura steps back jumper with 20 seconds left quickly got it back down to a two-point deficit. UMBC had one last chance to tie it when they had the ball with two seconds left. But the inbound pass was tipped and Maura’s long-range heave bounced off the front iron and over the backboard.

“We were forced into a situation where we had to pressure the basketball.” UMBC head coach Ryan Odom said. “We were fortunate because they missed some free throws, that gave us the ball back. We just tried to shorten the game and do the best that we could down the stretch.”

The Retrievers were completely dominated in the rebound battle 46-24, which helped Vermont to 18 second chance points. The Retrievers may have had difficulty with rebounding but they forced 17 turnovers and limited theirs to only five to make up for it.

Vermont had four players score in double digits. Wills led Vermont with 22 points and added 13 rebounds to complete his double-double.

UMBC is back in action this Wednesday at Albany with sole possession of third place in the America East Conference on the line. They will return home on Saturday, Feb. 18 to host UMass Lowell in a game set to tipoff at 1 pm.

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Zain Ahmed

Staff Writer
When Zain was a youngster his brothers were huge sports fans, but would only watch occasionally and wasn't a huge sports fan at the time. That would all change when he was in fourth grade and his father gave him his first two sports jerseys. He got an Elton Brand Clippers jersey and Derrick Brooks Buccaneers jersey. Those gifts jump-started his sports fandom, especially for basketball and football. Zain began to follow sports more than ever and even started to play a bit. When in high school he wrestled and played rec basketball. In 2014, his love for sports expanded even more with the World Cup. That got him interested in soccer and the English Premier League. After high school there were no more sports for Zain to play anymore, so to continue his passion for sports he moved into writing.

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