BALTIMORE- UMBC senior guard Brian Neller (Red Bank, N.J./Christian Bros. Academy) netted a heavily-contested 25-footer with 0.5 seconds to play to propel the Retrievers to a thrilling 68-67 victory over Maine at the RAC Arena.
The injury-riddled Retrievers won back-to-back games for the first time this season and improved to 4-5 in America East and 6-16 overall. Maine (3-6, 8-14) dropped its sixth game in the last seven outings.
Maine sophomore guard Zarko Valijarevic hit his third trey of the night from the right wing with 6.7 remaining to give the guests the lead. After a time-out, UMBC sophomore guard Joey Getz (Philadelphia, Pa./Archbishop Wood) drove the ball up the floor and pitched it back to Neller on the right wing. With two Black Bears draped over the sharpshooter, he rose up and swished the game-winner.
UMBC junior forward Chase Plummer (Plainfield, N.J./St. Patrick) led the Retrievers with 17 points. Getz added a career-high 16 points, senior guard Ryan Cook (Laurel, Md./Pallotti) pitched in with 14 and Neller posted 12.
Valijarevic led all scorers with 20 points.
Due to injuries to three post players, UMBC did dress a player taller than 6'6".
UMBC trailed, 39-26 at the half, and when Valijarevic buried a trey with 11:34 remaining, the Black Bears maintained a 44-34 advantage.
But Neller and Plummer hit back to back treys to start the Retriever comeback. After a Maine turnover, acting head coach Aki Thomas went with four or five-guard alignments and a match-up zone defense for the rest of the game.
That group built the run, allowing only one offensive rebound over the final 10:16. A Getz steal and driving layup gave UMBC its first lead since an early 5-3 edge at 56-54 with 7:03 to play.
UMBC extended the run to 17-0 run and took a 61-54 lead with 5:10 remaining.
Valijarevic's trey with 6.7 seconds left gave the visitors its first lead since the 7:38 mark.
After a ragged first half, UMBC hit 16-of-28 shots from the floor in the second half and finished at 43.3 percent (26-of-60). Maine hit 48.0 percent (24-of-50) for the game, but relied on the long-distance shot in the second half and misfired on 11-of-15 behind the arc.
The win in the final five seconds was UMBC's first since a 59-57 victory at American in December of 2009.
Neller, who moved into fifth place on UMBC's all-time 3-point field goal list (now 228) with six at Binghamton on Wednesday, has 25 treys in his last six outings.
UMBC continues its three-game homestand on Wednesday when they welcome Albany to the RAC Arena.