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Sparked By Seniors, Men's Basketball Gains No. 6 Seed by Upending Binghamton, 59-49
Ryan Cook led UMBC with 24 points.
Brian Neller is now second in school history with 252 treys.
BALTIMORE- UMBC senior guards Ryan Cook (Laurel, Md./Pallotti) and Brian Neller (Red Bank, N.J./Christian Bros. Acad.) starred on “Senior Day” for the Retrievers, scoring 41 of the team’s 59 points as UMBC defeated Binghamton, 59-49, at the RAC Arena.
The Retrievers (5-11 America East, 7-22) won a tie-breaker with New Hampshire and will be the No. 6 seed in the next weekend’s America East Tournament at Albany. UMBC will face No. 3 Hartford at 2:00 p.m. on Sat., March 9 at Albany’s SEFCU Arena. The Retrievers and Hawks split a pair of games during the regular season and it was UMBC’s victory over Hartford (10-6, 17-12) in January which gave them the higher seed over UNH.
Cook scored a game-high 24 points, marking the seventh game he has exceeded the 20-point plateau this year. Neller added 17 points and buried 5-of-10 shots from behind the arc. He moved into second place on UMBC’s all-time 3-point field goals list with 252.
Neller now has 82 treys on the season, moving past the 81 he converted in 2011-12. He now has the second and third-best single seasons in school history.
Binghamton senior wing Taylor Johnston led his side with 16 points.
Both squads struggled in the first half in a slow pace dictated by zone defenses for both sides. Binghamton had a five-point lead at 14-9 at the 11:57 mark of the half, but the Retrievers took a 26-25 lead at the break when Cook buried a left baseline trey just before the halftime buzzer.
Binghamton (1-15, 3-26) took its last lead of the afternoon on Johnston’s trey, putting the Bearcats ahead, 33-32 with 14:53 remaining. But UMBC countered with a 7-0 run, capped by a left baseline 3-pointer from sophomore guard Joey Getz (Philadelphia, Pa./Archbishop Wood) , which gave the hosts a 39-33 advantage with 12:24 on the clock.
The Bearcats crept back to within 42-40 on a pair of free throws by freshman wing Jordan Reed at the midpoint of the half. But Neller sparked a 8-2 response with his 251st and 252nd career treys, giving the hosts a 50-42 advantage two minutes later.
Binghamton misfired on nine of its final ten field goal attempts and could not mount a rally.
The Retrievers converted 12-of-26 shots from behind the arc against Binghamton’s 2-3 zone defense. They struggled inside and hit only 31.7 percent (20-of-63) for the game.
But UMBC held the Bearcats to 33.9 percent shooting, and held Reed, the league’s leading scorer to 3-of-12 shooting (11 points). They also forced 20 Binghamton turnovers and outscored the Bearcats, 19-5 off of miscues.
UMBC junior forward Chase Plummer (Plainfield, N.J./St. Patrick) nearly posted a double-double, scoring nine points and adding 12 caroms.