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Hot and Cold: Men’s basketball struggles with quick turnaround

There is a reason why sports are not decided on paper. One would imagine that the Vermont Catamounts, playing at full strength with their best player Anthony Lamb, would be a tough task for UMBC and that the UAlbany Great Danes would be a breeze. But this week shaped out much differently than match-up predictors imagined.

On Thursday, the Retrievers men’s basketball team hosted the Catamounts for a nationally televised game. It was the second game between the two teams so far on the year. In January, the Retrievers bested the Catamounts in Burlington, VT in the first rematch of last years America East championship game. At that time, Vermont was without their leading scorer, Anthony Lamb due to a concussion. Still, the Catamounts entered the game heavily favored to beat the Retrievers.

But, the Retrievers played tough defense throughout the contest, and they were seemingly too tough for Vermont to handle. Junior-guard KJ Jackson and Junior-forward Arkel Lamar led the charge as the Retrievers outplayed the Catamounts on both sides of the ball. Jackson scored 18 points with 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Lamar scored 15 points with 5 rebounds and 3 steals. UMBC led the game for all but about 30 seconds of the contest, dominating the team that they had lost 23 consecutive games against.

On Saturday, the Retrievers traveled to Albany, where they looked to continue their hot-streak. After the win against Vermont, the team had won 9 of their last 10 contests. But, Albany’s offense was too much for UMBC on the evening. Aside from making the first field-goal of the evening, UMBC would not lead in the contest. They would fall to Albany 84-75. The Great Danes scored more points than any other conference opponent has against UMBC all season.

Despite the setback against Albany, the Retrievers will look to finish their season strong. On Wednesday, they have the opportunity to take second place from Stony Brook, as they play the Sea Wolves on the road in New York. They will finish the regular season on Saturday at home against New Hampshire.

UMBC will host a first-round playoff game at the Event Center on March 9. If they secure second place in the conference, they would also host a second-round game on March 12.