Efficient Offense, Stifling Defense Leads Men's Basketball Over Kennesaw, 66-53

Efficient Offense, Stifling Defense Leads Men's Basketball Over Kennesaw, 66-53

Kennesaw, Ga. – UMBC junior post Cody Joyce (Churchton, Md./Southern) scored a season-high 21 points and the Retrievers held host Kennesaw State to 15 second half points, triumphing over the Owls, 66-53, at the KSU Convocation Center.

The Retrievers (2-9) have won two straight, while Kennesaw, which just posted 90 points in a victory at Youngstown State on Wednesday, slipped to 4-8.

UMBC hit a season-high 54.2 percent from the floor (26 of 48) and converted 11 of its final 12 free throws of the game to pull away down the stretch.

Grad student guard Wayne Sparrow (Baltimore, Md./St. Frances) added 15 points, including sinking 9-of-10 second half free throws. Sparrow added a team-high eight caroms, as UMBC outrebounded KSU, 36-28.

Freshman guard Jourdan Grant (Bowie, Md./Archbishop Spalding) added 11 points and five assists. Senior forward Devarick Houston (Jonesboro, Ga./Mays) had a successful homecoming in front of dozens of family members and friends, scoring eight points and adding six rebounds.  

Trailing 38-37 at the break,  UMBC opened the stanza on a 14-5 run, leading 51-43 after a Joyce field goal with 11:31 remaining. Kennesaw scored the next two field goals and had another possession to cut the lead further, but Delbert Love missed a jumper, starting a drought of six consecutive empty possessions for the Owls.

Joyce hit a layup near the end of the shots clock to boost the Retriever lead back to 56-49 with 4:42 to play and the Owls would get no closer in the contest.  

Joyce finished 10-of-16 from the floor, setting a team season-high for points and field goals made.

The Retrievers started the game in inspired fashion, going on a 17-2 run to take a 17-6 advantage after a Houston trey from the top of the key with 13:19 to play in the stanza. But the hosts' marksmanship against the UMBC zone turned the tide, as the Owls buried six of their final 10 attempts from behind the arc. A 20-10 response by Kennesaw cut the gap to 27-26 on Nigel Pruitt's third trey in less than two minutes. KSU took a late lead and went to the half leading, 38-37.

UMBC sizzled from the floor, hitting 17 of 27 field goal attempts (63.0%), including a 6-of-9 performance by Joyce (12 points). The Retrievers did not take full advantage, however, missing four of five free throw attempts, including one one-and-one opportunity.

The Retrievers have committed only 20 fouls in the last two games, allowing the opponents to seven total free throw attempts.

UMBC returns to the floor on Sunday, Dec. 28, as they host Lehigh at the RAC Arena. Tip-off time is set for 5:00 p.m.