The magical month of March has arrived, and with it comes championship week. All around college basketball, conference tournaments have begun. Jairus Lyles’ shot against Vermont and UMBC’s victory against Virginia in the NCAA tournament have all faded into our memories. The America East Conference playoffs have begun, and now it is time for new memories, new history to be made and new legends to be born.
On Saturday, the Retrievers were set to take on the Albany Great Danes for the third time this season, this time with the season on the line. It was the quarterfinals of the America East tournament, and #3 UMBC would host #6 Albany on their home court.
The Retrievers struggled against the Great Danes in their two games earlier in the season. The first of which was decided by a three-pointer by junior-guard Ricky Council II in the closing seconds of the overtime period. The second was in Albany, where UMBC struggled on both sides of the ball, and fell to the Great Danes by double-digits.
But, on Saturday the Retrievers would put their past struggles behind them and they put on a show at the Event Center. The lock-down defense, and high-flying offense were too much for the Great Danes to handle.
Despite a 5-0 start by Albany, the Retrievers were virtually in control for the entire game. After back-to-back three-pointers by graduate-forward Joe Sherburne and junior-forward Arkel Lamar, the Retrievers would go back-and-forth with the Great Danes for much of the first half, but still the Retrievers seemed to be in control the entire time, thanks to their phenomenal defense, forcing five shot clock violations in the half. They went into halftime leading 29-24.
After the break at half, UMBC’s offense started to get in gear. They began the half on a 6-0 run over the first 3:36. The Retrievers kept Albany at an arms length over much of the half, leading by as many as 18 points. But with 4:17 left in the game, the Great Danes began to cut into their deficit.
The Great Danes began with a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 11 points with 2:55 left in the game. They were eventually able to cut it to 8 points with 47 seconds left. With time winding down, Albany was forced to resort to intentional fouls to try and come back. But, UMBC would go 6/6 from the free-throw line to put the game on ice and win 62-55.
Lamar and junior-guard KJ Jackson impressed on both sides of the ball during the game. Each player registered 11 points and 3 steals en route to the quarterfinal victory.
After the game was over, #2 Stony Brook was upset by #7 Binghamton in their semi-final game. Since the America East Conference re-seeds between rounds, the Retrievers will now be set to host #4 Hartford at home on Tuesday at 7 P.M.
Since the Retriever produces on Mondays and distributes on Wednesday, go to retriever.umbc.edu for coverage of Tuesday’s semi-final contest.