BALTIMORE – UMBC sophomore guard Jairus Lyles (Silver Spring, Md./DeMatha) dazzled the home crowd with 27 points and added seven rebounds and four steals, leading the host Retrievers to an 89-76 victory over Maine in an America East Conference contest at the RAC Arena.
Red-shirt sophomore guard Rodney Ellilott (Baltimore, Md./John Carroll) added 21 points and eight assists as the Retrievers (5-12 overall) evened their conference record at 1-1 on the campaign. A game Maine squad slipped to 4-11, 0-2.
Lyles hit 10-of-14 shots from the floor, 3-of-5 from behind the arc and 4-of-5 from behind the charity stripe, scoring more than 24 points for the fifth time in his six appearances this season.
Maine's Troy Reid-Knight knocked down his fourth and final trey of the game to knot the score at 59-all with 9:33 to play. But Lyles countered with a pair of free throws for UMBC, then buried a trey after a Jourdan Grant (Bowie, Md./Archbishop Spalding) steal. Junior Will Darley (Timonium, Md./Dulaney) capped the 7-0 run on a reverse layup after a deft pass from Elliott to put the Retrievers ahead, 66-59 with 7:36 remaining.
The Black Bears stayed within touch, as a layup by freshman guard Lavar Harewood trimmed a ten-point deficit to 75-67 at the 4-minute mark. But UMBC broke Maine's press and Grant fed Lyles for a layup and subsequent free throw to restore the double-digit lead. After a Maine field goal, UMBC scored on the other end and took advantage of back-to-back Bear turnovers to tally the next seven points and put the game out of reach.
UMBC shot 64 percent from the floor in the second half, hitting 16-of-25 attempts and finished the game at 58.8 percent (30-of-51). Seventy of UMBC's 89 points came from inside the paint or at the free throw line. The Retrievers posted a season-high 20 assists and also converted 24-of-29 free throw tries.
Maine nearly hit the 50 percent mark from the field, converting 31-of-63 shots (49.2 percent), and buried 10 (of 27) treys, but only converted four of eight free throw attempts as UMBC primarily featured a zone defense.
Elliott converted 13-of-14 attempts from the line to lead UMBC's sterling effort. UMBC freshman wing Joe Sherburne (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) added 14 points, while Darley led all players with 10 rebounds. UMBC was outrebounded by six at the half, but came back to win the battle of the boards, 28-27.
Reid-Knight came off the bench and led Maine with 18 points.
UMBC got out to a 13-4 lead, but Maine surged back to lead by as many as seven points, at 33-26, with 4:58 to play in the first half. The Retrievers scored the final six points of the half, capped by an Elliott jumper just before the horn, to take a 39-37 halftime advantage.
UMBC has now won three consecutive home games and surpassed last year's win total with their fifth victory.
The Retrievers continue league play when they head back to New York to face pre-season league favorite Stony Brook on Wednesday, Jan. 13.