Durham, N.H.- Junior guard Brian Neller's (Red Bank, N.J.) 3-point field goal with 31 seconds remaining restored a UMBC lead and the visiting Retrievers went on to a 82-76 victory over New Hampshire in the America East opener for both teams.
The 82 points scored is a season high for UMBC and the victory is UMBC's first in a league opener since 2008. The Retrievers hit eight of 12 shots from behind the arc for the game.
Sophomore forward Chase Plummer (Plainfield, N.J.) scored a career-high 23 points and was UMBC's America East Player of the Game.
Neller hit a trey with 4:01 remaining to give UMBC a 71-64 lead. But the host Wildcats hit eight consecutive free throws in a 10-2 run and UNH guard Jordan Bronner buried a pair with 46 seconds remaining to put his side ahead, 74-73.
But UMBC did not panic on the ensuing possession and Neller, who hit five of eight from behind the arc, swished his trey from the top of the key. Plummer rejected Bronner's driving layup and junior guard Ryan Cook (Laurel, Md./Pallotti) hit two free throws after being fouled while snaring the rebound.
After UNH's Chandler Rhoads hit a driving layup with 13 seconds to play to trim the gap to 78-76, Cook marched back to the line and buried two more attempts with 10 seconds remaining to secure the victory.
Five Retrievers posted double figures. Neller finished with 17 points, Cook scored all 12 of his points in the second half and sophomore guard Jamar Wertz (Suffolk, Va.) added 11 points. Senior post Jake Wasco (Philadelphia, Pa.) recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 caroms.
Sophomore wing Patrick Konan led UNH (5-7, 0-1) with 20 points.
The Wildcats never trailed in the first half, building the lead to as many as ten points on a steal and Chandler Rhoads layup with 11 seconds to play in the first half. But Plummer hit his first trey of the year just before the halftime horn and the Retrievers trailed, 39-32, at the break.
That momentum carried into the second half as UMBC outscored UNH, 13-4 in the first five minutes and took its first lead at 45-43 on a Wertz trey from the left corner. After Wildcat guard Alvin Abreu tied the contest on the next possession, UMBC mounted an 8-0 spurt, highlighted by a pair of traditional three-point plays by Cook and Quentin Jones (Ellicott City, Md./Mt. St. Joseph) and led, 53-45 with 12:25 remaining.
UMBC (2-11, 1-0) extended the lead to 63-53 on a Cook layup with 8:07 to play before the hosts started their rally. The Retrievers scored 50 second half points.
UMBC hit 15 of 28 shots from the floor in the second half and were 27 of 61 (44.7 percent) for the contest. The Retrievers outrebounded their hosts, 41-32, as Wertz snared eight rebounds and Plummer added seven.
The Retrievers improved to 4-5 in both America East openers and in games at Lundholm Gymnasium.
UMBC opens the home America East slate vs. Albany (9-6, 1-0) on Thursday, Jan. 5.