Lexington,Va.- UMBC senior guard Chris De La Rosa (Washington Heights, N.Y.) returned with 17 points and 10 assists and freshman forward Chandler Thomas (Indianapolis, Ind.) added 23 points, but the Retrievers lost an up-and-down battle at VMI, 84-79.
UMBC sophomore guard Quentin Jones (Ellicott City, Md./Mount St. Joseph) tied the game at 73-all on a three-point play with 3:34 to play, but back-to-back field goals by VMI's Stan Okoye and Keith Gabriel restored a four-point lead.
Trailing 78-74, De La Rosa made an acrobatic drive and converted the free throw to bring UMBC within a point with 41.4 seconds to play. The Retrievers tried to get a defensive stand, but VMI's Michael Sparks iced the game on a trifecta with 10.6 seconds remaining.
Gabriel and Okoye led all scorers with 24 points apiece.
De La Rosa did not start, but entered the game after the Keydets got an early lead. UMBC freshman guard Joey Getz (Philadelphia, Pa.) did not make the trip after suffering a leg injury on Thursday evening vs. Loyola. Jones, a walk-on to the program, earned the start for the Retrievers.
UMBC fell behind, 25-10, at the 10:47 mark of the first half, but went on an 11-0 run to close within 25-21 on a Chandler Thomas lay-in off a De La Rosa feed at the 7:43 mark. VMI extended the lead to double figures again, but Plummer and De La Rosa scored the Retrievers' final 17 points of the half and a pair of free throws by the senior guard with 1.7 seconds to play in the half gave the visitors a 40-39 halftime lead.
The Retrievers extended the lead to 11 points early in the second half after Thomas hit a pair of free throws to put the visitors ahead, 55-44, with 16:22 remaining. But the Keydets countered with a 15-2 run and took a 59-57 advantage with 12:17 to play.
UMBC's final lead was at 61-59 on a Thomas jumper with 10:52 to play.
The Retrievers shot 53.8 percent from the floor (28 of 52), but misfired on 12 of 32 free throw attempts. VMI (3-1) countered at 44.6 percent, but made 9 (of 36) 3-point attempts, while UMBC was 3 of 11.
Thomas hit 8 of 12 from the floor and 7 of 10 from the stripe. De La Rosa posted his eighth career double-double in 33 minutes of action.
Sophomore forward Chase Plummer (Elizabeth, N.J.) scored a career-high 16 points, but fouled out with 6:14 remaining.
UMBC (0-4) continues its five-game road trip at Central Connecticut on Tuesday.