Men's Basketball Hosts Dynamic Islander Squad in CIT Semifinals

photo by: Gail Burton
photo by: Gail Burton

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at UMBC Game Notes 

The UMBC men's basketball team (21-12) hosts Texas A&M- Corpus Christi (23-11) in the semi-finals of the College Insider Tournament. The game is set for the RAC Arena on Wednesday, March 29 at 7:00 p.m.


The Retrievers advanced with home victories over Fairfield, 88-83, Saint Francis (Pa.), 87-79 and Liberty (80-68), while TAMCC defeated Georgia State, 80-64, Weber State, 82-73, and Fort Wayne, 78-62, all in Corpus Christi.


The game will be televised nationally on CBS Sports Network with Dave Popkin and Kyle Macy on the call. 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 semifinals and championship will be broadcast on CBS Sports for the fifth consecutive year. 


RETRIEVERS' UPDATE: UMBC reached the semi-finals of the College Insider Tournament, as the host Retrievers defeated Liberty, 80-68, at the RAC Arena on Sunday afternoon.


With the win, UMBC improved to 21-12, reaching the 21-win mark for just the second time in the school's 30-year Division I history. The 2007-08 America East championship team and NCAA qualifier holds the record for victories with 24.


Five Retrievers scored in double figures, led by junior guard Jairus Lyles, who tallied 20 points. Lyles also added a game-high eight rebounds and added five assists .Senior forward Will Darley came on strong down the stretch and finished with 18 points.


Junior guards K.J. Maura and Rodney Elliott and sophomore forward Joe Sherburne added 11 points apiece.


Lyles leads the squad in scoring, averaging 18.9 points per game. The 6'2" guard is also UMBC's top rebounder at 6.6 caroms per game and just became the second Retriever in school history to record 600 points and 200 rebounds in a single season.  


Darley is now scoring at a clip of 16.3 points per game.  He is now ranked fourth in the nation in 3-pt. field goal percentage (45.1 percent) and 18th in free throw percentage (88.9 percent). Darley is averaging a team-best 21.7 points per game in the CIT Tournament.


Sherburne is averaging 11.0 points per contest, while Maura (8.9 ppg, 4.3 apg) is in the top 40 nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5).  


Through games of March 19, UMBC was 22nd in the nation in scoring average at 81.8 points per game. They are also 18th nationally with 9.8 three-point field goals made per game and 16th in 3-pt. field goal percentage (39.8 percent).


MORE DOG BYTES:  As of March 26, UMBC was the third-most improved Division I team in the nation with a 13.5-game improvement (7-25 to 21-12) over a year ago.


UMBC has broken a season record for 3-point field goals made in a season. The Retrievers have 323, 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 2,698, surpassing the previous record of of 2,450 points, recorded in the 2007-08 season… UMBC's scoring average of 81.8 points per game is 0.1 behind of the 1991-92 team's school-record mark of 81.9 points per game…  UMBC is 16-1 when scoring 80+ points, 15-0 when outrebounding a foe and will play its 34th game tonight, breaking the 2007-08 squad's (24-9) mark of 33 for the most games played in a season.


UMBC becomes the fourth team in America East history to make their way to the semi-finals of a national tournament. Vermont went to the semis of the 2015 and 2016 CBI and Boston U. got to the CBI semis in 2010. But UMBC is the first of those sqauds to win three games to reach the penultimate round.


ISLANDERS UPDATE: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi has put together outstanding back-to-back seasons. After a 25-8 record a year ago, the Islanders come into the CIT semi-finals with a mark of 23-11. TAMCC has been nearly unbeatable at home in the last two seasons, winning 29 of 31 games.


The Islanders had two perfect months in 2016-17, as they won all five in November and all seven in February. They added two wins to conclude January and put together a season-high nine game winning streak.


Prior to the CIT tournament, TAMCC suffered a heartbreaking defeat in the Southland Conference Tournament. Regulation proved too short to decide the title game as the No. 2 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team was outscored by three in the extra period by No. 1 seed New Orleans, as the Islanders fell, 68-65.


But TAMCC has won the CIT Tournament games by an average of 13.7 points per game. They defeated Georgia State, 80-64, Weber State, 82-73, and Fort Wayne, 78-62, all in Corpus Christi.


TAMCC leading scorers Rashawn Thomas and Ehad Amin scored 26 and 21 points respectively against Fort Wayne. Thomas, a 6-8 senior forward, is tenth in the nation in scoring, averaging 22.8 points per game. Amin, a junior from Alexandria, Egypt, averages 17.2 points per game and leads the nation with 3.44 steals per contest.


The Islanders are ranked eighth nationally with 9.2 steals per game and force 16.2 miscues per contest, 15th in the country.


THE SERIES: This will be the first meeting between the two schools. UMBC has played only one other game versus a member of the Southland Conference. The Retrievers lost a neutral site game to Nicholls State, 75-71, in the 1988-89 season.  


UP NEXT: The winner of this contest will host the victory in the Furman at Saint Peter's contest on Friday at 9:00 p.m.