BALTIMORE – Defending America East champion UMBC (9-7, 1-0) used its 2018-19 formula for success – stout defense and second-proficiency- to outlast visiting Maine (2-14, 0-1), 61-52, in the league opener for both teams at the UMBC Event Center.
The Retrievers held the Black Bears scoreless over the final 5:44 and outscored the visitors, 42-21, in the final 20 minutes to overcome a 13-point second half deficit and earn the victory.
UMBC sophomore forward Brandon Horvath (West River, Md./Southern) continued his excellent play at home, leading a balanced effort with 13 points, while classmate Daniel Akin (London, England) added 12 points and 8 rebounds.
Maine versatile junior Andrew Fleming led all players with 18 points and 10 caroms.
Fleming's layup gave the Black Bears a 37-24 lead with 17:29 remaining, but a three-point play by Retriever junior guard Ricky Council (Durham, N.C.) triggered a UMBC response. Junior forward Arkel Lamar (Bridgeport, Conn.) knocked down a trio of treys over a span of 3:10 to highlight a run of 17-3 that closed the deficit to 41-40 at the 13:17 mark.
After Maine's Isaiah White hit a floater inside, UMBC graduate student forward Joe Sherburne (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) converted a fast-break traditional three-point play and Horvath gave the hosts their first lead since the early stages of play with a corner trey at the 10:20 mark.
The Black Bears edged back in front at 48-46 on two free throws by Fleming at the 8:47 mark, but Horvath knocked down another trey and dunked after a K.J. Jackson (Houston, Texas) steal to give the Retrievers the lead for good at 51-48 with 7:51 remaining.
Maine was still within 53-52 after Sergio El Darwich knocked down two throws with 5:45 to play, but the Black Bears would miss their final eight free throw attempts and commit three turnovers down the stretch.
Akin had the two key offensive plays for UMBC in that span, converting a fast break layup to put UMBC ahead, 56-52, with 3:39 to play and using a slick inside move to give the hosts a 59-52 advantage at the 2:22 mark.
After converting only 7-of-25 field goals in the first half, UMBC knocked down 15-of-25 in the second half. Conversely, Maine hit the 50 percent mark (12-of-24) in the first 20 minutes, but slumped to 38.9 percent (7-of-18) in the final 20.
UMBC outscored the Black Bears, 24-6, in point off turnovers and 14-0 on fast-break opportunities.
UMBC has been outscored by 28 points in the first halves of game this season, but is plus-126 in the final 20 minutes through 16 games.
Maine held the lead for the final 13 minutes of the first half and outscored UMBC, 12-5, in the final 4:27 of the stanza to lead, 31-19, at the break.
The Retrievers ran their winning streak to nine straight over the Black Bears and now lead the all-time series, 20-13.
Sherburne added 10 points, scoring in double figures for a personal high tenth consecutive game. He buried trey No. 240 of his career, tying UMBC Hall of Famer Jay Greene for fourth place on UMBC's all-time list.
UMBC takes a northern road trip next week, visiting Hartford on Wed., Jan. 9 and UMass Lowell on Saturday, Jan. 12.