Evan Fjeld was an absolute nightmare for UMBC’s offense as he was the lead catalyst for the Vermont Catamount’s defense in their 73-58 victory over the Retrievers in the America East Conference Opener.
UMBC kept the game close very early by fell behind by 11 points in the first half when Robbie Jackson, Adrian Satchell, and Shawn Grant were all seated with two fouls early in the game. When that happened neither side of the floor could get things going to UMBC. Chauncey Gilliam scored 13 points and shot 50% from the field for the Retrievers but was met with a constant double team because of the lack of offensive options UMBC had available.
Defensively, UMBC was forced to switch out of their 2-3 zone that was working very effectively because they did not have the inside presence needed to keep the ball on the outside.
The 2-3 zone of the Retrievers kept them in the game for the early part because Vermont was forced to take three-point shots where were not falling. After both Jackson and Satchell were put on the bench the Catamounts worked the ball inside and took advantage of the lack of size on the court for UMBC.
UMBC trailed by 11 points at intermission but when those three players; Jackson, Satchall, and Grant, all made it back on the floor in the second half, UMBC managed to cut the Vermont lead to just five points with 10 minutes remaining in the game, but all three players picked up another early foul, and Jackson eventually fouled out, allowing Vermont to go on a 21-8 run over the next seven minutes, putting the game out of reach for UMBC.
Despite only playing 23 minutes, Jackson led UMBC with 15 points. Satchell recorded an impressive six points and five rebounds for the 16 minutes he was in, and Grant scored nine points and shot 50% from the field in just 19 minutes.
While UMBC may have lost their conference opener by 15 points to the team with the best overall record in the conference, they showed they have the ability to be a little bit of a factor in the America East if they keep players out of foul trouble and have other good scoring options on the floor to open up Chauncey Gilliam.
The Retriever will have a slight break from conference play as they return home on January 6 to play their final non-conference game of the season against the winless Ivy League team Pennsylvania at 7:30.