Minneapolis, Minn. – The UMBC men's basketball battled the Minnesota Golden Gophers, 2014-15 NIT Champions, hard for nearly 40 minutes, but fell, 69-51, before 11,212 at Williams Arena.
UMBC grad student guard Wayne Sparrow (Baltimore, Md./St. Frances) led all scorers and totalled a career high 16 points. Junior guard Aaron Morgan (Langhorne, Pa.) starting in place of an injured Rodney Elliott (Baltimore, Md./John Carroll) added 14 points. Morgan hit 3-of-5 shots from behind the arch.
Minnesota was led by post Maurice Walker, who scored 15 points and blocked five shots.
UMBC (0-3) committed three turnovers on its first three possessions, but then Morgan hit trey of the half at the 17:02 mark to cut the early Gopher lead to 5-3. Sparrow gave the visitors their first lead of the half on a baseline jumper and UMBC led, 10-9, at the 14:31 mark. He extended the run to 13-6 on a long trey from the right side, forcing a Minnesota time-out just 23 seconds later.
The Gophers would reclaim the lead, but Morgan's third trey of the half brought the Retrievers to within 26-25, at the 4:11 mark. After six first half lead changes, Minnesota led, 32-26, at the break.
UMBC hit 5-of-9 from behind the arc in the first half and only lost the battle of the boards, 20-19. But the Retrievers missed four of five free throw attempts and committed 14 miscues against constant Gopher pressure in the first 20 minutes.
The Retrievers hung in there for the first portion of the second half, trailing only 46-38, with 11:28 remaining. But the Gophers went on a 19-6 run to cement away their third consecutive victory after opening with a loss to No. 8 Louisville.
UMBC only lost the battle of the boards, 43-40, as freshman guard Jourdan Grant (Bowie, Md./Archbishop Spalding) led a balanced effort with seven caroms. Sparrow added six rebounds and a pair of blocked shots in 30 minutes of action.
Minnesota's pressure defense caused 23 UMBC turnovers and the Gophers outscored the Retrievers, 25-2, in points of turnovers.
UMBC returns to action and opens the home schedule on Tuesday, Nov. 25 versus Howard. Opening tip at the RAC Arena is set for 7:30 p.m.