The fifth-seeded UMBC men’s basketball team opens competition in its 11th America East Men’s Basketball Championship when the Retrievers face No. 4 seed and host Albany on Saturday, March 8 at UA’s SEFCU Arena. The contest is the second quarterfinal game of four on the day, as top-seeded Vermont kicks off the afternoon by taking on No. 8 New Hampshire at noon. The No. 5 seed is UMBC’s highest since the 2007-08 team earned the No. 1 seed and went on to take the title. The two squads split a pair of thrilling contests this season, with Albany winning, 73-72, in double overtime at SEFCU on Jan. 8 and the Retrievers getting a last-second tip-in from Quentin Jones and triumphing, 71-69 at the RAC Arena on Feb. 12. Paul Mittermeier and Dan Levin have all the play-by-play action and video streaming is available via ESPN3.
RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC achieved its most victories (9) since the 2008-09 season, but its last victory came versus Albany on Feb. 12 and the Retrievers enter the tournament tying a season-high with four consecutive setbacks. Three of those losses occurred on the road, including a 67-56 loss at Hartford on March 2. FR G Rodney Elliott (14.9 ppg), selected as the AE Fans’ Choice Player of the Year, scored 21 points versus the Hawks, posting 20 or more for the seventh time in his initial campaign. The Retrievers have enjoyed great tournament success at SEFCU Arena, posting a 3-1 record in the 2009 and 2013 championships.
GREAT DANE UPDATE: Albany could have clinched the No. 3 seed in the tournament with a win at Stony Brook on March 2, but dropped a hard-fought 73-68 decision. The setback snapped a three-game win streak for the Danes, which started after their loss at UMBC. SO G Peter Hooley, who scored 21 second-half points in the Danes’ setback to the Retrievers, leads the squad with 14.8 points per game and is the league’s most-proficient free throw shooter (132/150, 88.0 percent). Three other Danes average in double figures, including JR F Sam Rowley (11.3), who leads the team with 6.8 caroms per game. UA is 9-3 on its home floor and 7-1 versus America East foes in 2013-14.
WHO’S UP NEXT: Should the Retrievers advance, they would face the winner of the No. 1 Vermont vs. No. 8 UNH contests in the first semifinal on Sunday, March 9 at 5:02 p.m.