BALTIMORE - UMBC weathered a miraculous, 26-point second half comeback by Hartford and prevailed over the Hawks, 90-85, in double overtime before 3,042 drained fans at the UMBC Event Center.
For the second consecutive season, the defending league champions (21-12) will travel to Vermont (26-6) to take on the top-seeded Catamounts. The two teams will square off at Patrick Gymnasium at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 16 and the game will be televised by ESPN2.
Sophomore forward Brandon Horvath (West River, Md./Southern) hit two pressure free throws with 8.3 seconds to play in the first overtime period to knot the score at 76 and extend the game to a second extra frame.
UMBC never trailed in the final five minutes, but with the game knotted at 85-all, Horvath once again buried two free throws with 51 seconds left. On Hartford's next possession, junior guard K.J. Jackson (Houston, Texas) blocked a Hawk potential game-tying shot, then drew a foul with 24 seconds left. Jackson, who led five Retrievers in double figures with 21 points, hit two free throws to extend the lead to four. Freshman guard R.J. Eytle-Rock (London, England) added a free throw with 10 seconds left after another UMBC stop for the final margin of victory.
Hartford senior guard Travis Weatherington led all scorers with 25 points, including 15 in the second half as the Hawks scored 50 second-half points against the nation's No. 17 defense.
The Retrievers led, 47-21, with 16:17 remaining in the second half. But Hartford, which shot just 28.6 percent from the floor in the first half, outscored the Retrievers, 28-9, over the next ten minutes to close to within 56-49 with 6:01 to play.
The Hawks continued to close, but graduate student forward Joe Sherburne (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) hit a trey with 42 seconds remaining to make it a two-possession game at 67-63. But after Hartford's J.R. Lynch hit two free throws, Sherburne missed the front end of a one-and-one with 22 seconds left. Lynch drew another foul and converted both free throws to give the Hawks their first lead at 68-67 with 16 seconds left.
Jackson drew a foul driving to the basket on the other end, but missed the first and made the second with 3.7 seconds remaining to send the game to extra time.
In his second game back after missing two with a hand injury, Eytle-Rock scored a season-high 16 points and added 8 rebounds. Horvath scored 14 points, while Sherburne posted a double-double with 12 points and 12 caroms in 47 minutes of action.
Lynch scored 22 points for the fourth-seeded visitors.
The third-seeded Retrievers started fast and did not let up for the first 20 minutes. They scored the game's first eight points, and, after a 5-0 Hawk response, the hosts took command with an 11-0 run to take a 19-5 lead at the 12:15 mark. UMBC led by as many as 20 points, at 33-13, at the 3:37 mark before settling for a 37-18 lead at the break.
UMBC outscored Hartford, 24-2, in the paint in the first 20 minutes.