Burlington, Vt.- UMBC could not sustain a mid-game rally and the Retrievers fell to America East defending champion, Vermont, 68-53, at Patrick Gym.
UMBC junior forward Chase Plummer (Plainfield, N.J./St. Patrick) led the visitors with 17 points and eight rebounds and senior guard Brian Neller (Red Bank, N.J./Christian Bros. Acad) hit four treys and added all 13 of his points in the second half.
The Retrievers trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half, but whittled the lead to 27-21 at the break. Neller then buried his first two 3-point attempts of the half and UMBC had cut the gap to 29-27 just 1:38 into the stanza.
The Retrievers would hang tough, cutting the deficit to three points on three more occasions, staying within 40-37 with 13:20 to play.
But Vermont, which had struggled from the floor, then proceeded to hit its next seven field goal attempts, and would outscored UMBC, 22-7 over the next eight minutes and led, 62-44, with 4:59 remaining.
The Cats hit 15 of 26 field goal attempts (57.7%) in the final 20 minutes and finished the game at 44.0 percent (22-of-50). They also converted 21 free throws, but did misfire on 18 attempts. UMBC was 16-of-44 for the contest (36.4%).
The Catamounts (3-1, 10-6) got out to a 14-4 lead six mintues into the contest, but UMBC would ratchet up its defense and hold the hosts to only two field goals in the final 14 minutes of the stanza. Sophomore guard Joey Getz recorded a steal and driving layup with 1:40 to go in the stanza to cut the deficit to 23-18. After Vermont restored the lead to nine points at 27-18, freshman guard Aaron Morgan (Washington, Pa./Council Rock North) closed the half with UMBC's first perimeter field goal, connecting on a long trey from the left baseline to cut the gap to 27-21 at the break.
Both teams struggled mightily from the floor in the first 20 minutes. UMBC misfired on 16 of 22 attempts, while Vermont hit only 7-of-24 .In fact, both teams had more free throws (UMBC 8, Vermont 11) than field goals made in the half.
UMBC (1-3, 3-14) committed 19 turnovers in the game, while Vermont had only six, and just one in the final 20 minutes.
The Retrievers return home to face Hartford (3-1, 10-7) on Wed., Jan. 16.