West Hartford, Conn.—UMBC reserve sophomore guard Brian Neller (Red Bank, N.J) exploded for a career-high 24 points and grad guard Travis King (New Haven, Conn.) hit the go-ahead trey late in the second overtime as the Retrievers won their second straight, defeating host Hartford, 74-70 at the Chase Family Arena.
Neller, UMBC's America East Player of the Game, also hit a career-high six 3-point field goals, the most for a Retriever since Ray Barbosa hit seven at Maine on Feb. 28, 2008. Neller hit 8-of-14 shots from the floor and 6-of-11 from behind the arc.
Grad forward Justin Fry posted his second double-double of the season, with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Fry, a 6-10 post, hit six of seven shots from the floor, including his lone 3-point attempt of the night, and all five free throw attempts.
Hartford senior guard Joe Zeglinski led four Hawks in double figures with 19 points, but he converted only 6-of-19 shots from the field. Classmate Morgan Sabia scored 17 points and added 17 rebounds for the Hawks.
With the game tied at 68-all and the shot clock winding down, King hoisted up and converted a rainbow three to give the Retrievers a 71-68 advantage with 52 seconds remaining. UMBC forced a Hawk miss, but Zeglinski stole the ball from behind Retriever guard Chris De La Rosa and fed Milton Burton for a dunk with 26 seconds left.
De La Rosa hit one of two free throws six seconds later, giving the Hawks the ball and a chance to tie or take a late lead. But an inspired UMBC defense forced a Zeglinski throw-away with three seconds left and Fry calmly buried two free throws to ice the victory with three seconds to play.
Each team held the lead in the first overtime and Fry's follow shot gave the Retrievers the last lead of the stanza at 66-64 with 62 seconds left, before Sabia's jumper with 49 ticks remaining sent the game to overtime tied at 66-all.
Neller hit his first four treys of the game, burying his fourth with 9:36 remaining in the first half to give the Retrievers an 18-11 lead. UMBC held the first half advantage until the 5:05 mark, when Hartford's Milton Burton dunked to give the hosts their first lead of the night at 26-25. Zeglinksi, who matched Neller with four first-half three-point field goals, hit a 30-footer at the halftime horn to give the Hawks a 34-30 advantage at the break.
Hartford led by as many as nine points at 54-45 with 8:18 to play, but Fry capped a 14-4 run with two free throws and gave UMBC its first second half lead at 59-58 with 2:49 remaining. Zeglinski's free throw with 1:27 remaining in regulation with the final point of regulation and the contest went to overtime tied at 59-all.
The win was UMBC's first in overtime since an America East Tournament quarterfinal victory over Boston U. on March 7, 2009.
UMBC played without the services of sophomore forward and Connecticut native Adrian Satchell, who did not make the trip due to illness. De La Rosa was also suffering the effects of a flu bug and saw his ten-game double figures streak come to an end. He did, however, contribute eight assists and seven rebounds in 48 minutes of action.
UMBC hit just 37.7 percent (23 of 61) from the floor, but did hit 12 of 24 shots from behind the arc. The 12 treys converted are the most for a Retriever squad since UMBC buried a school-record 17 at Ohio State on Dec. 29, 2007. The Retrievers converted 16 of 19 shots from the free throw line.
Fry is 22-of-24 from the charity stripe in six America East contests. His 18 points is a season-high and one point shy of his career mark.
Neller scored in double figures for just the third time this season. His previous career-high was 15 points at Toledo last season.
King added 12 points for UMBC, hitting four of seven shots from behind the arc.
Hartford shot 36.2 percent (25 of 69) from the field and 26.3 percent (10 of 38) from behind the arc.
UMBC comes home on Friday, but returns north to face New Hampshire in Durham, N.H. on Sunday, Jan. 23.