BALTIMORE – Freshman guard Jose Placér (Orlando, Fla.) knocked down a 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds remaining, capping an 18-point second half comeback as UMBC edged New Hampshire, 56-53, in the Retrievers' final game of the regular season.
UMBC heads to the post-season at 19-12 overall and 11-5 in America East play. UNH (4-24, 2-13) AE, coming off a win at UAlbany on Wednesday, has one game left versus Maine on Tuesday.
The Retrievers trailed, 48-30, with 12:48 remaining and held UNH to just five points the rest of the way.
UNH led, 53-47, after Nick Guadarrama knocked down a trey with 2:25 remaining. But UMBC junior guard Ricky Council II (Durham, N.C.) countered with UMBC's second trey of the day 19 seconds later. He then recorded the Retrievers' 13th steal of the game, feeding sophomore forward Brandon Horvath (West River, Md./Southern) for a break-away layup, which cut the deficit to 53-52 with 58 seconds left.
Both teams committed turnovers on the next possessions and UMBC sent Josh Hopkins to the line for one-and-one with 11 seconds remaining. He missed the attempt, and after a Retriever time-out, graduate student forward Joe Sherburne (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) drove and kicked to Placér on the right wing and the freshman drained the trey.
Horvath added a free throw with 1.4 seconds left to finalize the scoring.
Sherburne, who was one of four seniors honored before the game – led UMBC with 15 points. Horvath scored 13 points in a reserve role, all in the second half comeback.
Marque Maultsby led New Hampshire with 15 points.
UMBC prevailed despite shooting 36.5 percent (19-of-52) from the field and 3-of-20 from long range. Twelve of UNH's 19 field goals came from behind the arc.
But it was the UMBC defense – ranked No. 22 in the nation - which keyed the rally. They forced eight UNH miscues and pressured the visitors into 11 misses in 13 attempts in the final 12 minutes.
The first half broke down to efficiency behind the 3-point line. The Wildcats knocked down 8-of-15 shots behind the arc, negating the ten turnovers that UMBC forced. The Retrievers' woes continued as they missed all six attempts, scoring all 22 points from the floor inside the paint.
Sherburne's lone trey of the game moved him into a tie for second place in school history with 261. He also snared six rebounds and now has 588, sliding into tenth place on the UMBC all-time list.
UMBC will host an America East quarter-final contest on Saturday, March 9 at 1:00 p.m. The defending America East champions could finish in second, third or fourth place in the conference.