BALTIMORE – UMBC junior post Cody Joyce (Churchton, Md./Southern) hit seven of eight shots from the floor, scoring a team-best 16 points, but visiting NJIT shot the ball extremely well in the second half and outlasted the Retrievers, 70-55, at the RAC Arena.
UMBC finished the non-conference slate at 2-11, while NJIT won its second consecutive contest and improved to 7-9.
The Retrievers and Highlanders engaged in a see-saw battle in the first half, as there were 14 lead changes in the first 20 minutes. UMBC got out to a hot start, hitting 6-of-9 field goal attempts to open the contest, taking a 15-14 lead on a layup by freshman guard Jourdan Grant (Bowie, Md./Archbishop Spalding) with 13:03 to play. NJIT went up by as many as five points later in the half, but a 6-0 UMBC run reclaimed the lead for the hosts at 24-23 with 2:15 remaining.
NJIT sophomore guard Damon Lynn, who would score points in the final 21:06 of the contest, hit a trey with 1:06 to play in the stanza to give the guests a 26-24 halftime lead.
The key run occurred at the beginning of the second half, as NJIT started on an 8-0 run in just 1:45 of play and took a ten-point advantage. The Retrievers rallied and pulled to within six points on two occasions, the final one coming as freshman guard Malcolm Brent (Silver Spring, Md./Northwood) drilled a trey from the left corner to cut the deficit to 40-34 with 13:22 remaining.
But the Highlanders settled any doubt with an 8-1 response, starting and ending the run with treys, and the visitors led by double figures for the final 10:27 of the contest.
Lynn led all scorers with 20 points, leading four Highlanders in double figures. NJIT hit 16-of-28 shots from the floor in the second half and finished at 50 percent (25-of-50) for the game.
Brent was the other Retriever in double figures with 10 points. Senior wing Devarick Houston (Jonesboro, Ga./Mays) scored nine points, added eight rebounds and four blocked shots, including a pair of rejections on a spectacular effort early in the second half.
UMBC had its second-best rebound margin (+7) of the season, as graduate student guard Wayne Sparrow (Baltimore, Md./St. Frances) posted his career best with 10 caroms.
The Retrievers open America East Conference play on Wednesday, Jan. 7 when they host U Mass Lowell at the RAC Arena.