The UMBC men’s basketball team defeated the Frostburg State University Bobcats in an exhibition home game at the RAC Arena Friday night 92–76.
The Retrievers put forth a strong effort in front of their home crowd, with the game serving as a tune up before heading out to the Jim Maui Invitational Opening Games on November 13.
“We wanted to protect our home court,” UMBC head coach Akeem Thomas said. “We don’t want people coming in here and winning games, we want to do the winning here.”
The final score wasn’t indicative of how back and forth the game was with nine lead changes and three ties. Frostburg only held a lead for three and a half minutes of the game, but they kept it close until about midway through the second half.
The Bobcats scored first, which the Retrievers followed up with a 7–0 run. UMBC started out strong on offense, making four of their first six shots although they cooled off, shooting 39 percent from the field for the rest of the first half. UMBC led by as many as seven in the first half.
The Retrievers held Frostburg to just 41 percent field goals shooting in the first half, though Coach Thomas thought the defense could have been stronger. “I thought we started off slow, defensively,” Thomas said. “I though in the second half we were much better.”
The Retrievers showed aggression early, attempting 12 more free throws than Frostburg in the first half.
“I’m a big proponent of getting out in transition,” coach Thomas said. “We want to take advantage of that and I thought we did especially Jourdan [Grant].”
However, they only made 11 of their 21 chances. The Retrievers improved their foul shooting in the second half, making 76 percent of their free throws.
“That’s just not gonna get it done,” said coach Thomas about the first half foul shooting. “In the second half, we settled in and concentrated a little bit better and we were able to knock some down.”
The Retrievers went 27–42 from the free throw line for the game, Frostburg went 11–17.
In the second half, Frostburg St. started off well, beginning the period making seven of their first 11 shots and even took the lead at the 16:32 mark of the second half. The turning point of the game came at the 9:43 mark of the half, when freshman forward Joe Sherburne made two three pointers in a 30 second span, increasing the UMBC lead to nine points. Coach Thomas talked about his freshman forwards importance to the team.
“If you don’t have guys that can stretch the floor and knock down shots like Joe Sherburne, it kind of really hurts what you’re able to do from an interior perspective,” Thomas said.
Playing in his first game back from a shoulder injury, sophomore guard Rodney Elliot led the team with 24 points while making eight of his 13 field goals and making four out of his eight three point shots. He added six rebounds, four assists, two steals and did not commit a single turnover.
“It was good that he had a really solid game, but I think it was most important just to get [Elliot] out here,” said coach Thomas. “A game like tonight makes me feel good about him getting back into the flow of things.”
Four players scored double figures for the Retrievers. Sophomore guard Jourdan Grant recorded a double double, scoring 17 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Senior forward Cody Joyce scored 14 points in 21 minutes off the bench and added eight rebounds. Sherburne scored 17 points, went 4–8 from three point range, and recorded a block and a steal.
The Retrievers used their size advantage and aggressiveness to their advantage, out rebounding the Bobcats 49–36, outscoring them in the paint 28–18, and grabbing more dead ball rebounds 6–1.
Frostburg senior guard Nick Smoot led the team in scoring with 19 points on 7–15 shooting and 5–9 shooting from three point range. Senior forward Shawn Henson added 17 points and led the team with nine rebounds.
UMBC’s men’s basketball regular season opener is at the Maui Invitational Opening Games Friday Nov. 13. They travel to Winston-Salem, North Carolina to take on the Wake Forest University Demon Deacons of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Retrievers regular season home opener takes place Wednesday Nov. 18 against the Loyola Greyhounds.