BALTIMORE – UMBC senior guard Quentin Jones' (Baltimore, Md./Mount St. Joseph) improbable tip-in with 2.4 seconds remaining broke a 69-all tie and gave the host Retrievers a 71-69 victory over defending league champion Albany in an America East contest at the RAC Arena.
Jones and freshman guard Rodney Elliott (Baltimore, Md./John Carroll) shared scoring honors with 16 points each.
Albany sophomore guard Peter Hooley led all scorers with 21 points, scoring all 21 in the second half.
There were eight lead changes and six ties in the second half. UA forward Sam Rowley tied the score at 69-all by hitting one of two free throws with 21 seconds remaining. Elliott drove from the left wing, but his shot was short, but Jones, the smallest player on the court at 6'0", tipped in the errant shot to give the Retrievers the lead.
After a stoppage in play to examine the clock, Albany's inbounds pass was intercepted by Jones, and UMBC had snapped a nine-game losing streak to the Great Danes.
The Retrievers won for the ninth time (9-15, 5-7 AE), surpassing last year's win total and posting its most victories since the 2008-09 season. Albany slipped to 12-13, 6-6.
UMBC freshman post David Kadiri (Beltsville, Md./Coolidge) added 13 points for UMBC, while UA senior forward Gary Johnson added 20 for the visitors.
After falling behind, 15-4 in the first six minutes, the Retrievers outscored Albany, 33-12, over the final 14 minutes and took a 37-27 halftime advantage. UMBC forced 10 Great Dane turnovers and scored 14 points off those miscues. Jones hit 4-of-6 shots from the floor and led UMBC with 11 points at the break.
The visitors opened the second half on a 10-2 run to narrow the gap to 39-37 just 2:11 into the stanza and took their first lead since the 8:36 mark of the first half on a Johnson tip-in at 45-44 with 13:13 remaining.
The Danes led, 48-46 on a three-point play by Johnson at the 12:31 mark, before UMBC countered with a 8-1 run, highlighted by treys by freshman wing Will Darley (Timonium, Md./Dulaney) and sophomore forward Malik Garner (Philadelphia, Pa./Chestnut Hill Acad.).
UMBC led, 54-49 the midpoint of the half and did not give up that lead until Hooley hit a contested elbow jumper to put his side ahead, 66-65 with 1:08 remaining.
On UMBC's next two possessions, Elliott drew fouls on drives to the basket. He converted two free throws each time, sandwiched around another Hooley jumper. His final two free throws gave the Retrievers a 69-68 lead with 31 seconds left.
UMBC was best outside the arc, hitting 8-of-19 attempts, while UA did its damage on the interior and at the free throw line. The Danes hit 23-of-45 field goal attempts (51.1%) and converted 20 free throws, outscoring UMBC by seven from the stripe.
Elliott added a team-best seven rebounds, while Jones had four helpers and no turnovers in 33 minutes.
UMBC takes to the road on Saturday, Feb. 15, facing first-place Vermont in Burlington in a 2:00 contest.
Notes: Elliott became the fourth UMBC Division I player to amass 300 points (375) and 100 re bounds (104) as a freshman... UMBC's last victory over Albany occured on March 8, 2009 in the America East semifinals at SEFCU Arena... Jones hit 3-of-5 from behind the arc, and has now made 14 of his last 24 attempts (58.3%) over the past five games.