What will the Retrievers and Wildcats do for an encore?
The fifth-seeded UMBC men's basketball team heads right back to Durham, N.H. to take on No. 4 New Hampshire in the #AEPlayoffs' quarterfinal round on Wednesday, March 1. Tip-off time at Lundholm Gymnasium for the rubber match of a dramatic series of games between the two squads takes place at 7:30 p.m.
The game will be broadcast on ESPN3 and live stats will be available via www.umbcretrievers.com. Fans can also follow via the men's basketball program's Twitter feed (UMBC_MBB). Access of live stats is also available via UMBC Front Row, UMBC Athletics' mobile website.
UMBC (18-11, 9-7 America East) came agonizingly close to hosting UNH (19-11, 10-6 AE) on Wednesday, but dropped a 94-90 double overtime decision at Lundholm on Saturday afternoon. One month earlier, the Retrievers rallied at the end of regulation and both overtime frames to nip UNH, 105-103.
The winner moves onto the semi-finals, which will be played at the site of the higher remaining seed on Monday, March 6.
RETRIEVERS' UPDATE: Despite a season-high 33 point effort by junior guard Jairus Lyles, UMBC could not overcome a rare poor shooting day from behind the arc and fell, 94-90, to the Wildcats. The Retrievers entered play on Saturday as the eighth-best team in the nation in 3-pt. percentage, but misfired on 24 of 30 attempts from behind the arc and were outscored on the free throw line by 12 in the setback.
UMBC reached the 18-win plateau for just the fourth time in 30 NCAA Division I seasons and celebrated the Senior Nights of Will Darley and Ben Grace by upsetting Stony Brook, 65-52, in the regular season finale at the RAC Arena on Wednesday night.
The Retrievers, the top offensive team in America East, but next-to-last in defense, allowed a season-low 52 points to Stony Brook. UMBC also broke an 18-game losing streak to the Seawolves that extended back to the 2007-08 campaign. UMBC junior guard Jairus Lyles and sophomore wing Joe Sherburne led a balanced effort with 13 points each.
Lyles leads the squad and is second in America East in scoring, averaging 19.1 points per game. The 6'2" guard is also UMBC's top rebounder at 6.6 caroms per game, good for sixth in the conference. He has scored 61 points in the two games versus UNH this season.
Darley is now scoring at a clip of 16.0 points per game and averaged 18.7 points per outing (3rd in the league) in America East contests. He is now ranked 11th in the nation in 3-pt. field goal percentage (45.2 percent) and 23rd in free throw percentage (88.7 percent).
Sophomore forward Joe Sherburne leads the conference in 3-pt. field goal percentage at 46.9 percent and is averaging 11.6 points per contest.
Lyles (1,030 points, 1,017 at UMBC) and Darley (1,008) both reached the 1,000 point plateau on Saturday.
Through games of Feb. 27, UMBC was 20th in the nation in scoring average at 82.0 points per game. They are also 17th nationally with 9.8 three-point field goals made per game and 16th in 3-pt. field goal percentage (40.1 percent).
MORE DOG BYTES: Senior wing Will Darley earned his first career league honor, as he was tabbed to the Second Team as America East announced its all-conference teams and major award winners on Monday. Junior guard Jairus Lyles joined his teammate, receiving back-to-back Second Team honors.
Sophomore wing Joe Sherburne followed up his recent selection to the CoSIDA Academic All-District team with an America East All-Academic Team accolade.
As of Feb. 27, UMBC was the 2nd-most improved Division I team in the nation (tied with UCLA) with a 12.5-game improvement (7-25 to 18-11) over a year ago. Minnesota stood 2.5 games ahead at +15.0.
UMBC has already shattered a season record for 3-point field goals made in a season. The Retrievers have 284, shattering the mark of 248, which was set in the 2007-08 campaign.
The Retrievers need to score 73 points to break their single-season mark of 2,450 points, recorded in the 2007-08 season. UMBC's scoring average of 82.0 points per game is 0.1 ahead of the 1991-92 team's school-record mark of 81.9 points per game.
Playing two overtime games versus the same team in a regular season never happened to a UMBC DI team before Feb. 25, when UMBC and UNH reprised the double overtime contest of Jan. 28 in Baltimore. Of course, the result was different. UMBC did play two overtime games vs. Boston U. in 2008-09, but the second contest was an America East playoff (quarterfinal) game.
UMBC is 13-1 when scoring 80+ points, losing for first time at UNH on Feb. 25... UMBC is 12-0 when outrebounding a foe.
UMBC #AEPLAYOFF NOTES: UMBC enters its 14th post-season as part of the America East Conference. The Retrievers have earned one title (2008) and have played in two championship games (2008, 2009)... UMBC is 16-25 in Division I tournament competition since 1990-91.
UMBC's record in the America East Tournament is 9-12... The Retrievers won 8 of their first 12 contests, but are just 1-8 since... UMBC is 4-5 in quarterfinal action... UMBC is 1-2 as a No. 5 seed.
UMBC has faced UNH only once in post-season action, but the 2017 meeting will be the first since 2005... The Retrievers won that encounter, 78-73, to earn their first league tournament victory.
WILDCATS' UPDATE: The Wildcats (19-11, 10-6 AE) have been one of the streakier teams in America East this season. They opened league play by winning five of seven, then dropped four straight, before reeling off their current surge of five in a row.
The trio of junior post Tanner Leissner (American East First Team, 17.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg) and senior guards Jaleen Smith (AE Second Team, 15.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and Daniel Dion (AE Third Team, 13.8 ppg, 91 treys) are the most potent in the league. UNH has the best 3-point defense in the league, holding teams to just 31.9 percent efficiency. They are second in total defense, allowing just 66.0 points per game and in rebounding margin (+6.3).
THE SERIES: UMBC snapped a five-game slide to UNH with the win a month ago. The Wildcats lead the all-time series, 17-10, and have won nine of 13 contests at Lundholm Gym. UNH has taken four straight meetings in Durham since the Retrievers prevailed, 82-76, in the opening league game of the 2012 campaign.