Game Preview: St. Francis at UMBC (CIT Second Round, Sat., March 18, 2 p.m.)

photo (Brian Gonzalez)
photo (Brian Gonzalez)

St. Francis at UMBC Notes

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The UMBC men's basketball team (19-12) hosts Saint Francis University of Pennsylvania (17-16) in the second round of the College Insider Tournament. The game is set for the RAC Arena on Saturday, March 18 at 2:00 p.m.


The game will be broadcast on Facebook Live with Gary Stein and Paul Mittermeier at the reigns. Live stats will be available via Fans can also follow via the men's basketball program's Twitter feed (UMBC_MBB). Access of live stats is also available via UMBC Front Row, UMBC Athletics' mobile website.


Now in its' ninth year, the 26-team CIT has had more schools make their postseason debut (25) and more programs win their first-ever postseason game (29) than all other tournaments combined during the eight seasons since the CIT was established in 2009.


The CIT uses the old NIT model in which there is no set bracket. Future round opponents are determined by the results of the previous round.


CIT games will be broadcast exclusively through Facebook Live, including all first round, second round and quarterfinal matchups. This enables the CIT to bring the excitement of postseason basketball to Facebook's global community of sports fans, which includes more than 650 million people connected to at least one sports Page on the platform.


The CIT semifinals and championship will be broadcast on CBS Sports for the fifth consecutive year. 


RETRIEVERS' UPDATE: UMBC won its first post-season NCAA Division I tournament game as the host Retrievers defeated Fairfield, 88-83, in the first round of the College Insider Tournament. The victory was UMBC's 19th (19-12) of the season, tying the 1988-89 team for the third most victories in 30 seasons of Division I competition.


The Retrievers displayed great balance, as five players scored in double figures. Junior guard Jairus Lyles, who moved into third place with 572 points in a UMBC single season, led the way with 20 points and senior forward Will Darley added 17 points.


Lyles leads the squad and is second in America East in scoring, averaging 19.1 points per game. The 6'2" guard is also UMBC's top rebounder at 6.4 caroms per game, good for sixth in the conference.


Darley is now scoring at a clip of 15.8 points per game.  He is now ranked fourth in the nation in 3-pt. field goal percentage (45.1 percent) and 19th in free throw percentage (88.9 percent).


Sophomore forward Joe Sherburne leads the conference in 3-pt. field goal percentage at 46.7 percent and is averaging 11.1 points per contest.


Through games of March 16, UMBC was 24th in the nation in scoring average at 81.6 points per game. They are also 18th nationally with 9.6 three-point field goals made per game and 21st in 3-pt. field goal percentage (39.7 percent).


MORE DOG BYTES:  As of March 16, UMBC was currently the fourth-most improved Division I team in the nation with a 12.5-game improvement (7-25 to 19-12) over a year ago.


UMBC has broken a season record for 3-point field goals made in a season. The Retrievers have 299, shattering the mark of 248, which was set in the 2007-08 campaign.


The Retrievers just broke the single season record for points, as they currently stand at 2,531, surpassing the previous record of of 2,450 points, recorded in the 2007-08 season… UMBC's scoring average of 81.6 points per game is 0.3 behind of the 1991-92 team's school-record mark of 81.9 points per game…  UMBC is 14-1 when scoring 80+ points, losing for first time at UNH on Feb. 25... UMBC is 13-0 when outrebounding a foe.


RED FLASH UPDATE: Saint Francis (17-16), the Northeast Conference Tournament runner-up, posted a 78-76 victory at Jacksonville on Tuesday. Sophomore guard Andrew Wolford earned MVP honors after leading SFU with 13 points, while classmate Josh Nebo, a sophomore post, added 12 points. The Red Flash have won five of their last six contests with the lone setback occurring in the NEC title game, as host Mount St. Mary's prevailed, 71-61.


The Red Flash possess a potent offense, as they average 75.7 points per game, shoot 46.5 percent from the floor and 39 percent from behind the arc.


Four players average in double figures, including young guards Isaiah Blackmon and Keith Braxton. Blackmon, a sophomore, leads the team with 13.6 points per game and has knocked down over 49 percent of his attempts (57-of-116) from behind the arc. Braxton, the NEC's Rookie of the Year, averages 13.1 points per contest and is the team's top rebounder at 8.7 per game.


THE SERIES: The two schools have met 15 previous times, 10 of which occurred when the Retrievers were members of the NEC from 1998-2003... UMBC holds a 9-6 series advantage, but the Red Flash won both match-ups in UMBC's final NEC campaign... The Retrievers had won the first seven contests held at the RAC Arena, before SFU got its first victory, 72-64, in the most recent meeting in February of 2003.


UP NEXT: The quarterfinals of the CIT Tournament are slated for March 24-26.