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ZITO LEADS MEN'S BASKETBALL TO 75-65 OPENING NIGHT WIN OVER UMES
It is the seventh straight year that UMBC has opened with a win. The Retrievers have no time to rest as they host LaSalle on Sunday and play at
Zito had secured his third career double-double by halftime with 10 points and 10 rebounds. The visiting Hawks held a slim lead for most of the first 20 minutes, but the Retrievers closed the half on a 8-0 run to lead 32-28 at intermission.
UMES took its final lead at 42-41 on an Antonio McMillion three-pointer with 13:41 to play. But then UMBC went on a decisive 14-0 run over the next four minutes to take a 55-42 lead with 9:34 to play. The Retrievers hit four three-point goals in the run, including a pair by sophomore Brian Hodges. Zito capped the run with a three-pointer from the right wing.
The Hawks got within 61-54 on a Jesse Brooks three-point goal with 4:57 to play and had two possessions to trim the lead again. But a missed field goal and missed front end hurt the Hawks and freshman Jay Greene hit a pair of free throws and sophomore Mike Housman hit a baseline jumper with 3:23 remaining to give UMBC a comfortable eleven-point cushion.
“It was a tremendous effort on our guys’ part,” said Head Coach Randy Monroe. “ I thought at the beginning we were probably a little nervous, and rightfully so. It was our first game and UMES is coming off playing two games in Iowa, so I thought they had a little bit of an edge from that standpoint. But I thought our guys did a good job probably toward the end of the first half, where we settled down a little bit and things started opening up for us down the lane and we started making some pretty good decisions, and I think that’s when we were able to take that lead.”
Zito hit eight of 16 from the floor, including both three point goals and was five-of-nine from the free throw line. Hodges also managed his first career double-double with 13 points and a career high 10 rebounds, despite a subpar shooting night of 3-of-16. Greene came off the bench and tallied 16 points, including 10-of-10 from the charity stripe, all in the second half.
UMBC hit 18 of 21 free throws in the second half and were 22 of 27 (81.5%) for the game, while UMES managed just four of 12 from the stripe. The Retrievers committed only 11 turnovers, while the Hawks suffered 11 of their 19 in the final 20 minutes.
Senior forward Tim Parham led the Hawks with 20 points and 15 rebounds. McMillion added 16 points for the visitors.
“Coach said it was about balance, and I thought we were pretty balanced,” said Zito. “We had guys (score) 13 and 16 (points) and we just have to keep it balanced so they don’t know what we’re throwing at them. We don’t want them to just stop one guy, we want them to stop all five guys on the court. We want all the guys to be a threat out there.”