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Retrievers earn first postseason win

By: Chris Jeter

For the first time in program history, the UMBC men’s basketball team was victorious in a national postseason game. On Wednesday night the Retrievers outlasted the Fairfield Stags 88-83 in the first round of the College Tournament (CIT).

“It sets a precedent,” senior forward Will Darley said. “An expectation of success and a culture of winning going forward.”

The Retrievers showed why they have one of the best offenses in the country. The Retrievers shot 51-percent from the field and 41-percent from 3-point range. Eight of 10 Retrievers who saw playing time scored and the team finished with 24 assists.

“The guys were really sharing the ball out there tonight,” UMBC head coach Ryan Odom said. “It’s how we started the season, it’s nice to see them finish that way too.”

Although the Retrievers led for all but 6:31 of the game, the Stags never went away. It was a high scoring, back and forth affair between the two teams, with 11 lead changes and three ties. Anytime one team made a big shot, the other answered back with one of their own. The first half resembled a 3-point shooting contest more than a basketball game. Both teams shot the ball well overall and from 3-point distance in the first half. The Retrievers shot 53-percent from the field and 42-percent from deep in the opening frame. However, Fairfield kept up with them, shooting 43-percent overall and 37-percent from three point range in the first.

The second half provided the same level of excitement. Fairfield came out of intermission hot, making five of their first six and three of their first four 3-pointers.

With 16:28 left in the second, Fairfield sophomore forward Matija Milin drained a corner three to give the Stags their first lead since the 16:07 mark of the first half. Their lead would not last long. Less than two minutes later junior forward Jairus Lyles banked in a floater whilst drawing the foul to tie the game at 57. Lyles completed the three-point play to give UMBC the lead back.

Those were two of six lead changes in the second frame. The teams traded baskets for the next three minutes before the Retrievers took the lead for good on junior guard K.J. Maura’s 3-pointer with 11:27 left in regulation. Fairfield got as close as one with 9:49 left, but could not tie or regain the lead.

It was fitting that the top two scoring Retrievers were the men who were honored before the game for eclipsing the 1,000=point plateau, Lyles and Darley. Lyles led the Retrievers with 20 points on 7-for-13 shooting. The America East All-Conference second team selection added six rebounds and three assists. Darley scored 17 points, went 6-for-10 overall and 3-for-5 from downtown. He had a well-rounded game, finishing with five assists and four boards. Maura had 15 points, five assists, and three boards. The America East All-Defense selection snagged two steals and made some key free throws down the stretch to secure the victory.

For the Stags, Nelson Tyler led the team with 30 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. Tyler was an efficient 11-17 from the field and made six of nine 3-pointers. Milin also posted a double-double with 20 points and 12 boards.

The CIT does not have set brackets, instead, sets the games as the tournaments go on. UMBC will learn their second-round opponent when the first round of games complete on Thursday. They are expected to host another round of the tournament.

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Chris Jeter

Staff Writer
Chris has always had a love for sports. He inherited his affinity for them from his New York Yankees-loving dad and grandad, even if they gave his beloved Orioles a hard time during their 14 years of futility. Chis grew up an Orioles, Ravens, Maryland Terrapins and Chicago Bulls fan. His love for the local teams can from his mother. His love for the Bulls came from Michael Jordan and his favorite color being red. As a youth, Chris played basketball, baseball, and soccer with varying degrees of success. He always wanted to play for a team in one of those sports when he grew up, but once he quickly realized that, that was probably not going to happen, Chris wanted to be a part of sports in some other way. Eventually, Chris settled on becoming a sports writer. A year after transferring to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where he took Media & Communications Studies with a Journalism Minor, he began writing for The Retriever, initially as a contributing writer and eventually as a staff writer for sports. After several months writing for The Retriever, he began writing for So Much Sports, covering various college sports and as a columnist, writing about a variety of national sports topics.

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