Blacksburg, Va. – Host Virginia Tech used a late first half surge to take control and the Hokies improved to 11-1 with an 87-70 victory over UMBC in the Retrievers' final non-conference game of the season.
UMBC will enter America East play at 9-4, the program's best record in 30 years of NCAA Division I competition. The Retrievers open league competition versus Binghamton at the RAC Arena on Thursday, Jan. 5.
UMBC junior guard Jairus Lyles (Silver Spring, Md./DeMatha) led the visitors with 21 points and eight rebounds.
But the Retrievers shot a season-low 36.2 percent from the floor and could not overcome a balanced Hokie attack.
Virginia Tech made its first five shots from the floor, including a pair from behind the arc, and took a 12-5 lead at the 16:02 mark of the first half. But a traditional three-point play by junior guard Jourdan Grant (Bowie, Md./Archbishop Spalding), a long trey and subsequent layup by Lyles knotted the game at 12-all at the 14:18 mark.
But the Retrievers could not take advantage of the open looks they got and committed 11 first-half miscues as the hosts took control. UMBC, which entered the game ranked tenth nationally in 3-point field goal percentage, missed on 12-of-14 tries in the first 20 minutes and shot 25.0 percent (9-of-36) overall. UMBC did outrebound the Hokies, 25-22, but trailed, 40-27, at the break.
UMBC hit five of its first six shots in the second half and cut the deficit to 44-36 on sophomore forward Joe Sherburne's (Whitefish Bay, Wis.) first trey of the night at the 17:09 mark. But the Hokies' Justin Robinson converted treys on successive possessions and Chris Clarke added a field goal to restore the advantage to 52-38 moments later.
The Retrievers shot over 50 percent for most of the second half, but VT knocked down 6 of their first 9 attempts from beyond the arc and kept UMBC at bay down the stretch.
Grant scored 11 points and added seven caroms for UMBC, while senior forward Will Darley (Timonium, Md./Dulaney) and freshman wing Arkel Lamar (Bridgeport, Conn.) added 10 points each. Lamar added seven caroms and three blocked shots to his scoring line.
Clarke led five Hokies in double figures with 22 poitns and he added 12 rebounds.
Note: Sherburne buried two treys and has hit at least one in all 13 games this season and 15 straight dating back to last year.