The second-seeded UMBC Retrievers (21-10, 12-4 America East) host the No. 7 UMass Lowell River Hawks (12-17, 6-10 AE) in the America East Playoffs quarterfinal round on Saturday, March 3. Tip-off time is slated for 1:00 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN3 with Gary Stein, John Feinstein and Paul Mittermeier on the call.
Retriever Update: Senior guard K.J. Maura (San Juan, P.R.) scored a career-high 25 points as UMBC earned the No. 2 seed in the America East playoffs with a 62-53 victory at Hartford on Tuesday. The 62 points ties a mark for the fewest scored in a win under Coach Odom (62-61 win at JMU last season). The win secured the second-seed and guarantee of two home games (should they advance) for UMBC in the America East playoffs, their best position since the championship season of 2007-08.
Maura and and graduate student guard Jairus Lyles (Silver Spring, Md./DeMatha) earned top honors as the America East Conference released its all-conference teams and major award winners on March 1.
Maura (11.1 ppg, 5.3 apg, 2.0 spg) became just the second Retriever in 15 years of America East competition to earn a major league award, as the 5'8" senior point guard earned America East Defensive Player of the Year honors. He was also tabbed to the league's All-Conference Third Team and All-Defensive Team, repeating in the latter category. Lyles (team-leading 20.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.1 spg) earned America East First Team honors, the first UMBC recipient since Darryl Proctor earned top honors in the 2008-09 season. He earned Second Team honors the last two seasons.
Moreover, junior forward Joe Sherburne (11.0 ppg, 70 treys) earned America East All-Academic Team accolades for the second consecutive year and freshman forward Daniel Akin, who started 15 of 16 America East games, was selected to the league's All-Rookie team.
A Glance at the River Hawks: Led by a stellar 40-point effort by First Team America East senior forward Jahad Thomas, UML (12-17, 6-10) finished the season with a convincing 92-77 victory at UNH on Saturday.
After a four-year provisional NCAA Division I status, the UMass Lowell program is eligible for America East and NCAA post-season play for the first time.
With that 40-point effort, Thomas won the league scoring title at 21.2 points per game. He finished fourth in the AE in field goal percentage (52.1) and in rebounding (8.1). Sharp-shooting senior guard Matt Harris averaged 12.2 points per game and led the squad with 69 treys. Freshman forward Obadiah Noel (6.6 ppg) earned America East All-Rookie Team status.
UML led the conference in scoring offense, recording 76.2 points per game, but the River Hawks did allow a league-low 78.2 points per contest.
The Series: The River Hawks won the first six games in the series, but UMBC has taken the last four, including a 83-75 triumph at the Event Cetner one week ago. The two teams combined for 210 points in the last meeting in Baltimore, a 108-102 triumph last February.
UMBC Tournament Notes: This will be the first time that UMBC has hosted a game in the four-year old campus sites' format... UMBC has yet to win a game in the new format and has lost four consecutive league playoff games… The last win occurred in the 2012-13 tournament, when the sixth-seeded Retrievers defeated No. 3 Hartford, 69-63... The Retrievers won eight of their first 12 AE Tournament games, but are just 1-8 since... UMBC has never been a No. 2 seed in 15 years of AE post-season play... Besides the 2007-08 championship season, when UMBC triumphed out of the top-seeded slot, the Retrievers have been the higher seed in only two other games, back in 2004-05 and 2005-06.
Up Next: Should the Retrievers win, they would host the America East Playoff semifinals on Tuesday, March 6. Tip-off time at the UMBC Event Center would be either 7:00 p.m. or 7:30 p.m.