BALTIMORE- Junior guard K.J. Jackson (Houston, Texas) scored a game-high 18 points and the Retriever defense held first-place Vermont 19 points below its season scoring average as UMBC prevailed, 65-56, before 2,411 at the UMBC Event Center.
UMBC has now won nine of ten and improved to 18-10 overall and 10-3 in America East play. The Retrievers tied Stony Brook for second place in the league and moved to within a game of Vermont after a season sweep.
UMBC clinched a top-four position and will host at least one home game in the America East Tournament which begins on March 9.
The loss ended a 24-game America East road winning streak for the Catamounts, who dropped to 21-6, 11-2.
UMBC junior forward Arkel Lamar (Bridgeport, Conn.) ably aided Jackson with 15 points, including 13 in the second half.
In a similar fashion to the Retrievers' win at Vermont, UMBC shot extremely well from the floor in the second half. They would never trail in the final 20 minutes and opened the frame by hitting 12 of their first 18 shots.
An early 6-0 run in the half increased UMBC's lead from 34-31 to 40-31 with 14:42 to play in the period. Leading 44-38 later in the stanza, a Jackson three-point play and a Lamar jumper from the right elbow capped a 7-0 surge and gave the hosts a 51-38 advantage with 8:31 remaining.
Vermont would not trim the gap to less than eight points the rest of the way.
UMBC hit 15-of-27 second half shots and finished at 45.5 percent (25-of-55) for the game. The Catamounts did not top the 40 percent mark in either half and finished at 36.3 percent for the contest (17-of-47).
Junior forward Anthony Lamb scored 14 points and led all players with nine rebounds for the visitors and Stef Smith added 13.
The win by UMBC was its third straight over Vermont, but snapped a 10-game home losing streak to the Catamounts, which extended all the way back to the 2007-2008 season.
Freshman guard R.J. Eytle-Rock (London, England) also scored in double figures for UMBC, scoring all 10 of his points in the first 20 minutes.
The Retrievers opened the game playing suffocating defense against the Catamounts, forcing four early turnovers and holding Vermont without a field goal until the 14:38 mark. UMBC would lead for all but 33 seconds of the half, but only converted 10-of-28 field goal attempts and 2-of-10 from behind the arc. But they held Vermont to 33.3 percent shooting (8-fo-24 and 2-of-11 from long range.
Eytle-Rock and junior guard Ricky Council (Durham, N.C.) sparked the Retrievers, scoring 10 and 7 points respectively as Lamar and graduate student forward Joe Sherburne (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) played limited minutes due to foul trouble.
The Retrievers led, 26-25, at the break.
Sherburne played in his 130th career game for UMBC, breaking former teammate Jourdan Grant's mark of 129, set one year ago.
UMBC travels to Albany on Friday for a Saturday evening encounter with the Great Danes, who defeated host Stony Brook on Thursday.