Stifling Defense Leads Retrievers to 62-54 Victory Over UAlbany in #AEPlayoffs; UMBC Hosts Hartford on Tuesday

photo by: Gail Burton
photo by: Gail Burton

BALTIMORE – Third-seeded UMBC (20-12) held No. 6 UAlbany (12-20) to 11 points over a 20-minute span in the mid-point of the game and defeated the Great Danes, 62-54, before 2,766 fans in an America East quarter-final match-up at the UMBC Event Center.

With No. 7 Binghamton knocking out second-seeded Stony Brook, the Retrievers will host Hartford in the league semi-finals. Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. at the UMBC Event Center. 

Three Retrievers scored in double figures to pace a balanced attack. Junior forward Arkel Lamar (Bridgeport, Conn.) and junior guard K.J. Jackson (Houston, Texas) scored 11 points apiece, while freshman reserve guard José Placer (Orlando, Fla.) added 10 points. Lamar and Jackson also each contributed three steals apiece.

UAlbany freshman forward Malachi DeSousa led all scorers with 15 points.

After holding the Danes to just 5 points in the final 8:44 of the first half and taking a 29-25 lead at the break, UMBC immediately built a double-digit lead by scoring the first six points of the second half. The Danes countered with back-to-back field goals, but a Lamar trey from the left corner triggered an 11-2 Retriever surge and put the hosts up, 46-31, with 10:17 remaining. Lamar added a 3-point from the opposite corner in the midst of the game's key surge.

The Retrievers built the lead to 54-36 with 5:34 remaining, but the Great Danes tallied eight straight points to move to within 54-44 after a pair of DeSousa free throws at the 2:55 mark. But Jackson hit a short jumper after a long UMBC possession and the Retrievers converted their final six free throws in the final 18 seconds to complete the victory.   

The UMBC program has won 20 games for three consecutive years for the first time in school history and the 20 wins is tied for the fourth-most in a single season.

The Retrievers – who have now outscored their foes by 175 points in the second half this season – converted 11-of-21 field goal attempts in the final 20 minutes and finished the game at 45.8 percent (22-of-48).

The UMBC defense, ranked No. 20 in the nation (63.6 ppg allowed) entering the game, held freshman guard Cameron Healy, America East's top 3-point shooter with 102 made on the year, without a shot attempt in the second half.  

UMBC graduate student forward Joe Sherburne (Whitefish Bay,Wisc.) scored 9 points and added a game-high 8 rebounds. His long first-half trey was No. 262 of his career and he moved into sole possession of second place on the UMBC all-time list.

There were 11 lead changes and three ties in the first half as UMBC took a 29-25 lead into the locker room. The Retrievers exerted themselves on defense in the latter stages of the period, forcing three shot clock violations and taking a pair of charges.

Notes: UMBC has now won four consecutive #AEPlayoff games and is 13-13 in 16 post-season tournaments… The Retrievers are also 4-0 in home games in tournament history and evened their record versus UAlbany at 2-2 in post-season… The crowd of 2,766 was a season-high.