Photo by Sam Nelson.
As UMBC left the tunnel, the Spectrum Center erupted with cheers, as the first 16 seed to ever beat a 1 seed entered the court for warmups. UMBC played Kansas State in the round of 32, marking the first appearance for UMBC in the second round of the NCAA tournament ever.
Freshman-forward Daniel Akin won the tip off to start the game off on the right foot for the Retrievers. UMBC took advantage of their first possession but missed a jumper early. After back and forth missed shots, UMBC scored first. The Retrievers went on a 7-0 run before the Wildcats scored their first field goal 7 minutes into the game.
Defensively, both teams came out hard to shut down the opposing offense. UMBC stifled Kansas State for the first few minutes before the Wildcats mounted a comeback. The Retrievers held the lead until the 08:31 mark when Kansas State took over 15-14.
Kansas State were on a run into the last 2 minutes of the game, when they finished the half scoring 25. UMBC hung in the game, making the halftime score 25-20 to the Kansas State Wildcats. UMBC was only shooting 29.2% from the field, and 22.2% from 3-point range.
After halftime, UMBC came out firing, putting up shots early, only to have Kansas State respond. The Retrievers fought hard, putting themselves in a prime position to take over the game, working hard on both ends of the court.
By the 12-minute mark in the second half, UMBC brought the game to within 1 point, at 32-31. The entire arena began cheering “UMBC” minus the Kansas State contingent. Senior-guard KJ Maura spent the first 8 minutes putting up 3 pointers and playing remarkable defense.
With just 9:42 left in the game, the score was 34-33, with UMBC working hard to keep the game close and push for a lead. No points were scored for a long 3-minute stretch for both sides, as defense prevailed on both sides, and turnovers causing both coaches to become more stressed.
Graduate-guard Jairus Lyles put up a 3 pointer with 5 minutes remaining to bring the game back within 1 point after Kansas scored, to put the score at 38-37, with the Retrievers right on the heels of the Wildcats.
With 4 minutes remaining, UMBC found themselves down 5 points, with the score sitting at 42-37, and the Retrievers struggling to convert chances. With just 1-minute remaining in the game, UMBC found themselves down by 5, playing great defense, but unable to shoot well, only shooting 30% from the field. As the time wound down, the Retrievers resorted to fouling for a chance to get the ball back. Kansas State converted free throws, and with little time left all the Retrievers could do was play defense hard and not let the Wildcats score again.
With 10 seconds remaining, UMBC substituted in the bench players who worked hard to help their team get to where they are today. UMBC shocked the world by beating the number one team in the country, but their missed chances from the free throw line and from the field would be the downfall. The final score was 50-43 to Kansas State. UMBC fought to the end and no one will ever be able to take away from them what they did in the tournament.