Men's Basketball Nearly Steals One, But Falls at DePaul, 69-61

Aaron Morgan scored a season-best 15 points.
Aaron Morgan scored a season-best 15 points.

Chicago, Ill.-UMBC nearly stole one from DePaul.

The Retrievers turned the host Blue Demons over 18 times, recording a season-high 14 steals, but fell, 69-61 at Allstate Arena.

Guard Aaron Morgan (Washington, Pa.) led UMBC with a season-high 15 points as the freshman point played all 40 minutes of the contest. Senior guard Ryan Cook (Laurel, Md./Pallotti) scored 13 points and classmate Brian Neller (Red Bank, N.J./Christian Bros. Acad.) added 12.

DePaul (9-3) wing and Baltimore native Cleveland Melvin led all scorers with 24 points.

The Retrievers (2-10) trailed, 38-30 at the half, but held DePaul to seven second-half field goals and stayed in the game. A Neller steal and driving layup to cut deficit to 47-43 with 11:08 remaining, but a subsequent 7-0 surge by DePaul restored a double-digit advantage.  

But UMBC would not go away. They cut the lead to six points on two occasions in the final 6:40 and had three possesions to get within four or three points. Cook hit a trey with 2:20 to play to bring the visitors to within 64-58 and the Retrievers got a quick stop on the other end. But Cook's pass to Neller on the wing sailed over the intended target's head and DePaul escaped with the victory.

The Retrievers opened the game in a match-up zone defense and throttled the DePaul offense in the early going. Morgan hit a lay-up on the break to give the Retrievers an 11-9 advantage with 13:41 to play in the half. The Blue Demons retook the advantage, but Neller hit a long left baseline jumper to tie the score at 23-apiece with 6:21 to play in the half.

But DePaul would wrest the lead for good in the half with a subsequent 6-0 run. Baltimore native Brandon Young's long trey with four seconds to play in the stanza gave the hosts their largest lead of the contest at 38-30 at the break.

Both teams struggled from the free throw line in the first 20 minutes, as UMBC hit 8-of-15 and DePaul was 8-of-14. Plummer and Roseboro were hampered with two fouls apiece and played 10 and 12 minutes respectively in the half.

UMBC shot just 39.3 percent (24-of-61) from the floor, but held DePaul to a hair over the 40 percent mark (20-of-49, 40.8%).

The Retrievers only took two trips to the free throw line in the second half and finished at 8-of-17, while DePaul made 17-of-23 in the final 20 minutes to finish at 25-of-37.

DePaul outrebounded UMBC by only, 39-38.

The Retrievers get back into action on Sat., Dec. 29 when they travel to face Mount St. Mary's.