BALTIMORE – The UMBC Retrievers fell, 65-63, in a hotly-contested America East home matinee against the Hartford Hawks. Graduate student Wayne Sparrow (Baltimore, Md./St. Frances) tied a career high and led all scorers with 24 points, including five second-half three-point field goals.
UMBC (2-16, 0-5 AE) trailed by as many as 16 points at 30-14 at the 6:20 mark of the first half, but rallied to tie the score at 45-all on a trey by Sparrow with 9:43 remaining. UMBC had two chances to take the lead, but a miss by Sparrow and a turnover on the ensuing possession led to a Hartford trey, which gave the visitors the lead for good with 8:28 remaining.
This sparked another Hartford run in which they made four straight shots and led, 60-50, with 4:33 remaining. But the Retrievers continued to fight back and whittled the deficit 60-58 on a put-back by junior post Cody Joyce (Churchton, Md./Southern) with 23 seconds left.
But UH converted four straight free throws at the 15- and 5-second marks, sandwiched around a pair from UMBC freshman wing Malcolm Brent (Silver Spring, Md./Northwood). Sparrow would hit a long trey to cut the gap to 64-63, but only 0.3 seconds remained and the Hawks tacked on one free throw to finalize the score.
Sparrow, who is averaging 18.4 points per game in league play, converted five of seven treys in the final 20 minutes and re-set his career mark with six trifectas. Joyce posted his sixth consecutive contest in double figures with 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting, while Brent added 11 tallies for the hosts.
Hartford senior wing Corban Wroe hit 8-of-9 shots from the floor, 4-of-5 from beyond the arc and led the Hawks with 23 points. UH (11-7, 4-1 AE) has won four straight contests.
Hartford jumped out to a big lead to start the first half, making 10 of their first 11 shots from the field. Reigning America East Player of the Week Mark Nwakamma scored all eight of his first half points in the paint, opening the passing lanes for the Hawks. The Retrievers took a timeout down 28-13 with 7:38 remaining in the half. They went on a 13-5 run to end the first half trailing just 33-26. The run was highlighted by a sophomore guard Ben Grace (Baltimore, Md./The Gilman School) triple and a Devarick Houston (Jonesboro, Ga./Mays) slam. After starting the half 10-11 from the field, the Hawks missed seven of their final 11 shots.
Early in the second half, Hartford extended their lead to 10, and were up, 41-31, when the Retrievers stepped up to the challenge and scored the next nine points cutting the lead to one. Sparrow's fourth long ball tied the game at 45 shortly thereafter.
UMBC hit a season best 52.6% (10-of-19) from behind the arc, while UH buried 9-of-18.
The Retrievers play six of their next seven games on the road, starting with a contest at Maine on Thursday evening.