Lowell, Mass.— UMBC men's basketball saw their comeback effort fall just short in a 96-92 loss to UMass Lowell on Sunday. Junior Will Darley (Timonium, Md./Dulaney/Fishburne Academy) scored a career best 31 points in the loss that drops the Retrievers to 6-21, 2-10 AE on the year.
The opening 20 minutes saw each side exchange hands with the lead, with neither side establishing a firm lead. Cody Joyce (Churchton, Md./Southern) and Will Darley got the scoring started with an and-one and a triple respectively. However the River Hawks went on a mini spurt to give themselves an 11-10 lead early.
The run kept the Retrievers scoreless for just about four minutes before Darley hit a turnaround midrange jumper to end the drought. Sophomore Jourdan Grant (Bowie, Md./Archbishop Spalding) picked the River Hawk pocket and finished on the other end to give UMBC a 14-11 lead.
From there both sides would go back and forth, with the River Hawks holding a 40-38 lead at the break. Darley led the attack with 13 points. Both Rodney Elliott (Baltimore, Md./John Carroll) and Jairus Lyles (Silver Spring, Md./DeMatha/VCU) had seven points in the opening stanza to lead the Retrievers, who shot 59.1% from the floor.
Half two opened up with a big hustle play from Joe Sherburne, who dove out of bounds to save to ball to Elliott for a layup. Lyles then stole the UMass Lowell pass and finished the run out to give UMBC a 51-50 lead early.
From there, the River Hawks would answer the call, scoring seven straight to increase their lead to nine.
The Retrievers would have their answer, as Will Darley would score seven straight points to give UMBC the lead at 70-69. Darley's seven points were a part a 12-4 run that spanned three minutes.
UMass Lowell would hit some key shots late, never letting the Retrievers within three. However the Retrievers would get a key stop under a minute to go. Lyles had his three attempt blocked, and the River Hawks hit their free throws late. Darley would hit a three to cut it to 94-92 with eight seconds left.
The River Hawks would hold on to win 96-92 in a thriller. Darley scored career high 31 points on 10-17 shooting. Elliott pumped in 20, while Lyles and Grant added 16 and 11 each.
The Retriever men will return to action at Hartford on Wednesday, Feb. 17. Tip-off with the Hawks is slated for 7 p.m. in West Hartford.