Men's Basketball Drops Tough Battle With Towson, 73-72

Joe Sherburne has now hit 22 of his last 30 treys. He scored 18 points vs. Towson.
Joe Sherburne has now hit 22 of his last 30 treys. He scored 18 points vs. Towson.

BALTIMORE  – UMBC (7-3) led for over 32 minutes against local rival Towson (7-4), but the visiting Tigers scored the game's final six points and nipped the Retrievers, 73-72, before 1,311 energized fans at the RAC Arena.

Towson junior guard Mike Morsell capped the late game rally with a driving layup with 12 seconds remaining. The Retrievers got possession under the basket with 7.5 seconds to play, but junior guard Jairus Lyles' ten-footer in the paint glanced off the front of the rim with two ticks left and the rebound could not be corralled as time expired.

UMBC senior forward Will Darley (Timonium, Md./Dulaney) led all scorers with 22 points, while sophomore forward Joe Sherburne (Whitefish Bay, Wis.) added 18.

Leading 40-27 at halftime, UMBC scored on the first possession of the second half to lead by 15. But Towson, driving to the basketball possession after possession, outscored the hosts, 26-10, and took its first lead since the opening moments at 53-52 at the midpoint of the stanza.

But the Retrievers would respond as Sherburne buried treys to give UMBC leads of 57-56 and 66-63, the final time with 3:45 remaining.

UMBC seemed to have all the momentum, when Lyles banked in a trey from the top of the key to put his side ahead, 72-67 with 1:41 to play. But Towson would convert two free throws on its next possession, and Lyles misfired on the offensive end and fouled Morsell on Towson's break-out. Morsell hit two free throws to cut the gap to 72-7he 1 with 49 seconds to play.

Lyles' corner jumper with 24 seconds left was short, and Towson quickly pushed the ball down the floor, where Morsell hit the game-winning shot.

UMBC hit 10-of-23 shots from behind the arc (43.5 percent), but struggled from the free throw line, converting only 8-of-18. The Retrievers shot 47.4 percent overall and committed only 11 miscues.

But Towson netted 19-of-29 second half shots and finished at 49.1 percent for the contest. The Tigers knocked down 16-of-22 free throw attempts.

Morsell had a big second half, scoring 10 of his 14 points and capturing 6 of his 10 caroms in the final 20 minutes.

UMBC held narrow four-point leads at the first three media breaks of the first half, but finished the half on a 12-5 surge to take a 40-27 advantage at the half. Darley had a brilliant all-around first half, hitting 8-of-12 from the floor, including 3-of-5 from behind the arc, and added four caroms and three assists.

The Retrievers had success inside in the first half, hitting 12-of-18 shots inside the arc and outscoring TU in the paint, 16-10.

But that changed in the second half, as Towson outscored UMBC, 30-6 , in the paint and outrebounded the smaller Retrievers, 22-9, in the final frame and 37-30 for the game.

Darley added six rebounds and five assists to his stat line, while Sherburne, who entered the game No. 9 in the nation in 3-point percentage, converted 4-of-7 from long distance and 6-of-9 overall.

The 7-3 start still ties UMBC's best in its 30-year NCAA Division I history.

The Retrievers have little time to rest, as high-scoring Citadel (7-5) invades the RAC Arena on Monday evening. The Bulldogs lead the nation in scoring, averaging 102.5 points per game.