CHARLOTTE – The UMBC men's basketball team's Cinderella run ended in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday Night at the hands of the No. 9 Kansas State Wildcats in a hard-fought 50-43 battle. The Retrievers end their magical season at 25-10, setting the program-record for most wins in a year.
Graduate student Jairus Lyles (Silver Spring, Md./DeMatha) led the team with 12 points, going 4-15 from the field, four assists, and four steals. Senior K.J. Maura (San Juan, Puerto Rico) had 10 points, shooting 2-3 from the three-point line. Lyles and sophomore Arkel Lamar (Bridgeport, Conn.) each pulled down six rebounds.
As a whole, UMBC shot 14-47 (29.8 percent) from the field - a stark comparison to the 54.2% they shot in the upset victory over No. 1 Virginia on Friday night. The Retrievers were also 9-18 (50.0 percent) from the free throw line and 6-22 (27.3 percent) from beyond the arc.
"Nothing can take away this - this loss can't take away what these kids, [Lyles and Maura] in particular and obviously the rest of our team has been able to accomplish throughout this entire season," said head men's basketball coach Ryan Odom. "Certainly in the NCAA Tournament, just to be here is a blessing for sure."
After entering the locker rooms at the half down 25-20, UMBC forced a turnover to start the second half and cut Kansas State's lead down to just two. The Wildcats extend their lead with a trey, but Maura responded, keeping things close.
Two free throws for Kansas State put the score up to 30-25, but after Lyles collected an offensive rebound, he kicked it out to Maura who sank the three to cut the advantage with 15:58 remaining.
Senior Jourdan Grant (Bowie, Md./Bowie) blocked a Kansas State jumper and collected the defensive rebound, giving sophomore Max Curran (Hooksett, N.H.) the chance to drain a three and pull the Retrievers within one, 32-31.
The Wildcats turned the ball over three straight times in less than two minutes, committing 18 total in the game, but the Retrievers couldn't capitalize on the misfortune. Kansas State ended a nearly four-minute scoring drought with a jumper, bringing the score to 34-31.
Maura then cut the advantage back to one, 34-33, after he was fouled during a three-point attempt, hitting two of his three shots. With 5:55 remaining in the game, Lyles hit a three and again brought the advantage to just one, 38-37.
The Wildcats gained a five-point advantage with 4:15 left to play, but UMBC brought it back down to three, 44-41, with a little over two minutes remaining.
Kansas State controlled the clock the rest of the way with a jumper that beat the shot clock and two free throws to secure the win.
The Retrievers started the game on a 7-0 run, including a three by Lamar. The Wildcats didn't find the bucket until the 13:35 mark, but Grant extended UMBC's lead to 10-2 with a three.
After Curran made a layup and Lamar had a tip-in to give the Retrievers a 14-8 lead with 10:35 to play in the first half, Kansas State used a 13-4 run to take the 15-14 lead.
Freshman Daniel Akin (Eltham, England) was fouled and converted one free throw to tie the game up at 15-all. After the Wildcats scored a basket off a turnover on the inbounds by the Retrievers, Maura made a layup to cut the lead to 19-17 with 4:26 left in the first half.
The Wildcats used another 6-0 run to push their lead to 25-17 with 1:58 remaining to play before Grant was fouled and knocked in two free throws. Grant was fouled with under a minute to play and cut the score to 25-20 at the intermission.