Hartford Halts Retriever Streak, Prevails With Second Half Rally, 84-77

photo by Brian Gonzalez
photo by Brian Gonzalez

BALTIMORE – Visiting Hartford hit 15 of 24 shots in the second half and rallied to defeat UMBC, 84-77, at the RAC Arena.

UMBC's three-game winning streak was halted and the setback dropped the Retrievers to 16-8, 7-4 in America East play. Hartford (7-19, 2-9 AE) snapped a six-game slide.

The Retrievers got standout offensive efforts from junior guard K.J. Maura (San Juan, P.R.) and senior forward Will Darley (Timonium, Md./Dulaney).The 5'8"  Maura buried 6-of-8 shots from behind the arc and scored a career high 24 points, while Darley added 22 points, including 17 in the first 20 minutes.

Hartford's Jalen Ross led all scorers with 28 points.  

UMBC led, 42-31, at the break and increased the lead to 13 on two occasions, including after Jairus Lyles' (Silver Spring, Md./DeMatha) trey to give the hosts a 48-35 lead  with 17:44 remaining.

But the Retrievers could not stop the Hawks as they scored on seven consecutive possessions in the middle of the half. Maura hit three treys to temporarily keep the Retrievers in the lead, but Hartford erased the entire deficit and took their first lead since the early stages of the first half when Jack Hobbs hit a jumper to put the visitors ahead, 63-62, with 4:49 remaining.

Hobbs then hits a trey on the next possession to put the Hawks up by four, but Darley halted the 8-0 run, converting a layup with 3:46 remaining. Hartford would miss two free throws, but Darley's jumper to tie the score drew iron and the Hawks scored the next seven points to take a game-high nine-point advantage at 73-64 with 1:59 remaining.

Maura's sixth and final trey of the night trimmed the deficit to 77-73 with 40 seconds to play. Hobbs made one of two free throws, but Lyles' three to bring the game to a single possession with 26 seconds left was off the mark and Hartford's J.R. Lynch hit six straight free throws in the final 23 seconds to seal the victory.

UMBC actually shot exceedingly well from behind the arc, hitting 14 of 29 attempts (48.3 percent). But Hartford's second-half zone forced nine uncharacteristic second half UMBC miscues and the Hawks outscored the Retrievers, 13-2, off turnovers in the final 20 minutes.

The Retrievers also committed their third highest number of fouls on the year – 23 and UH attempted 20 more free throws than did the hosts in the second half, hitting 18-of-24 in the stanza and 26-of-33 for the game. UMBC converted 11-of-13 free throws in 40 minutes.

Hartford kept the pace to their liking for a majority of the first half and held UMBC to 6-of-19 shooting as the teams went to the third media time out knotted at 17-all. But Darley caught fire in the final stages of the half and sparked an initial 15-6 run which gave the hosts a 34-24 lead at the x:xx mark of the period.

The senior forward capped the half with a turnaround jumper from the right side with xx seconds to play in the stanza and gave the Retrievers a 42-31 advantage at the break.

UMBC hosts league-leader Vermont at the RAC Arena on Sunday, Feb. 12.

Notes: UMBC has now converted more than 10 treys in a game on 11 occasions this season… Darley tied a school record by hitting both free throw attempts on the night and running his consecutive free throws mark to 28, knotting Terence Ward's record, set in the 1998-99 season.