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Men’s basketball drops heartbreaker to Hartford

On Wednesday night, the Retrievers men’s basketball team traveled to Hartford, Connecticut to take on the Hawks in their first America East road game of the year. The Hawks were favored heavily over the Retrievers with over a 75 percent chance of victory according to ESPN’s predictions. But, that number seemed to be heavily exaggerated, as the two teams performed very similarly in non-conference play, finishing with winning percentages around .500.

However, Hartford did look like they would overpower UMBC after a 10-0 start to the game. The Hawks held the Retrievers scoreless for almost six minutes of play before freshman-guard RJ Eytle-Rock would make a layup to get the Retrievers on the board. UMBC would get as close as 5 points at one point in the first half, but they would spend much of the half down by 10 or more points, struggling to keep pace with Hartford. They would end the half down by 9, leaving them in a very familiar position, as the Retrievers have trailed at halftime for much of the season, utilizing second-half comebacks in many of their nine wins.

Like many of the previous games, UMBC performed much better in the second half. Graduate-forward Joe Sherburne and Junior-Forward Arkel Lamar both scored double figures in the half to aid the Retrievers in their comeback attempt. With 7:19 left to go in the game, Lamar hit a jump-shot that would give UMBC their first lead of the evening. Lamar would add a three-pointer, and another jumpshot to give himself 7 points in just under two minutes.

UMBC would maintain their late lead until the very end of the game. Up by 5 points, junior-guard KJ Jackson fouled a Hartford player on a three-point attempt, and the player would convert all three resulting free-throws. The Retrievers would not be able to score to put the game away in the closing minute. Three missed field-goals and two missed free-throws allowed Hartford to drive to the basket, and draw a foul in the 0:04 of the game. The Hawks would convert their two free-throws to send the game into overtime.

In overtime, the Hawks would outscore the Retrievers 9-7. With just under three seconds left in the game, junior-guard Ricky Council II would take a long three-point shot from the corner, bouncing high off the rim and ending the game at 66-64 in favor of Hartford.

Bridgeport, Connecticut native Lamar impressed in his homecoming game. Lamar scored 18 points, 12 of which came in the second half. He was 7/12 shooting, and also registered 5 rebounds.

Sherburne had another good night from the field also shooting 7/12 with 4 rebounds and 3 assists. He scored 17 points. He is now shooting an impressive 53 percent on the season.

The Retrievers play again on Saturday as they take on UMass Lowell in Massachusetts at 5:30 p.m. The game will be streamed on ESPN 3.