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Men's Basketball Defeats Major Conference Foe; Retrievers Edge Nebraska, 66-64
Lincoln, Neb.óThe UMBC menís basketball team accomplished what the previous 31 non-conference foes could not do at Nebraskaóget a victory.
The Retrievers halted the eighth-longest streak in the nation and defeated the Cornhuskers, 66-64, before 8,293 fans at the Devaney Sports Center. It was UMBCís first-ever victory over a team from one of the top six conferences in the country (ACC, Big Ten, Big East, Big 12, SEC, PAC-10) and was the Retrieversí top win in RPI, as Nebraska entered the game at No. 53.
"I am extremely proud of our guys,Ē Head Coach Randy Monroe said. ďI thought they battled from the very beginning of the game and took a big lead. I knew Nebraska was going to make a run. They're well-coached and the kids play hard. We've seen enough tape on them to know that they're going to come after you and get after it. I'm really proud because when Nebraska was making a run, our guys hung together. That's what I always tell them: When you're on the road, it's got to be everybody."
Freshman Chauncey Gilliam (Columbia, Md.) was brilliant, hitting nine of 11 shots from the floor and scoring a game-high 21 points. Seniors Darryl Proctor (District Heights, Md.) and Jay Greene (Whitehall, Pa.) were also heroic as each stuffed the stat sheet in 40 minutes. Proctor posted his third double-double in the last four games with 15 points and a season high 13 rebounds, while Greene scored 13 points and added nine assists.
The final sequence was heart-stopping as the Cornhuskers made a desperate rally down the stretch. UMBC was clinging to a 66-63 lead after NUís Brandon Richardson hit two free throws with 22 seconds left. On the inbounds pass, Greene was double-teamed and Proctorís sideline pass went off Justin Fryís hands and out of bounds. NUís Paul Velander, who had hit four previous three-point field goals, misfired from the baseline with 14 seconds and a wild scramble for the loose ball ensued. Greene emerged with the ball, but was called for a hold to send NUís Steve Harley to the line with five seconds remaining.
Harley hit the first, but quickly tossed the ball off the front rim and it went out of bounds off UMBC with 2.3 seconds left. Harley got the inbounds pass, but his layup attempt was blocked by Proctor and it went over the endline with 0.1 seconds left. NUís lob pass was picked off by Matt Spadafora (Richboro, Pa.) and the Retriever celebration commenced.
The Retrievers hit 24 of 42 shots ( 57.1 percent) from the floor and 15 of 18 (83.3 percent) from the charity stripe. They outrebounded the Huskers. 32-19, as Gilliam added a season-high eight rebounds. Spadafora hit four straight free throws in the final minute and was UMBCís fourth player in double figures with 11 points.
NUís last non-conference loss occurred on Dec. 3, 2005, a 73-72 loss vs. UAB.
UMBC was dominant in the first 20 minutes, leading by as many as 20 points at 36-16 before settling for a 37-21 lead at intermission. Gilliam scored 15 points and Greene scored 11, hitting all three of his shots from behind the arc.
UMBC scored 66 points, as the Huskers came into the game as the sixth-best defensive team in the nation, allowing just over 53 points per game.
The Retrievers have a week off before revisiting the midwest on Dec. 30 when they face Saint Louis.