Ten years ago, UMBC and Hartford battled in the America East championship game at the RAC Arena. On Tuesday, March 6, the second-seeded Retrievers (22-10) and third-seeded Hawks (19-12) meet again on the UMBC campus, this time to determine which team will advance to the 2018 America East title game. This time, however, the contest will be held in the new UMBC Event Center, with a tip-off time of 7:30 p.m. on tap.
The contest will be broadcast on ESPN3, with Gary Stein, John Feinstein and Paul Mittermeier on the call.
Retriever Update: In its first home America East playoff game in a decade, second-seeded UMBC dug an 11-point halftime hole, but outscored No. 7 UMass Lowell, 51-28, in the second half and came away with an 89-77 victory in Saturday’s quarterfinal game at the UMBC Event Center.
Graduate student guard Jairus Lyles (Silver Spring, Md./DeMatha) scored 16 of his team-high 18 points in the final 20 minutes to lead the rally. But he had plenty of assistance from his senior backcourt running mates, as K.J. Maura (San Juan, P.R.) and Jourdan Grant (Bowie, Md./Archbishop Spalding) added 16 points apiece.
Lyles leads the Retrievers in scoring at 20.2 points per game. He added five steals to his season total on Saturday and his 63 thefts is the third-most in a single season in school history. Lyles needs 15 points to become the first player in school history to record a pair of 600-point campaigns.
Maura adds 11.3 points per game and is now up to 13th in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio.
UMBC’s current total of 22 wins are now the second-best total wins in 32 years of NCAA Division I competition. The 2007-08 title team finished at 24-9.
The America East quarter-final victory over UML snapped a five-game losing streak in the tournament dating back to a quarter-final win over Hartford in 2013. The appearance in the semis is UMBC’s first since falling to Vermont a day after defeating the Hawks. It is the Retrievers’ fifth appearance in the conference semi-finals, where they are 1-3 to date.
The Retrievers have now posted five three-game winning streaks in 2017-18, but have not recorded more than three in a row on the season.
A Glance at the Hawks: Third-seed Hartford (19-12, 11-5 America East) advanced to the semi-finals with a 71-60 victory over No. 6 New Hampshire on Saturday. The Hawks outscored UNH, 12-4, to end the game and advance to their fifth semi-final appearance in the last eight years. They recorded a program-record 19th victory after being selected to finish eighth in the pre-season coaches’ poll.
America East Second Team forward John Carroll hit 11-of-13 free throws and led the Hawks with 21 points. Carroll leads UH with 15.3 points and 6.5 caroms per game. Classmate and sharpshooter Jason Dunne (14.8 ppg) leads America East with 90 made treys.
Hartford has won eight of their last ten games. UH has actually been a better road team than at home this year, winning 10 of 15 away from home and going 7-1 on the road in the conference. Their lone setback was a loss to UMBC on January 15.
The Series: The Hawks hold a 17-15 overall lead in the series, but UMBC has won three of the last four after a five-game winning streak by Hartford. The Retrievers triumphed this season, 78-56, at the RAC Arena on Jan. 15 and 62-53, one week ago in West Hartford.
The Retrievers hold a narrow 9-7 advantage in games played in Baltimore.
UMBC has also captured both meetings in America East Tournament play. In 2008, the top-seeded Retrievers defeated the second-seeded Hawks, 82-65, to win their lone America East title at the RAC Arena. In 2013, No. 6 UMBC upset No. 3 Hartford, 69-62, in overtime in Albany. Prior to UMBC’s win over UML on Saturday, that was the last AE Tournament victory for the Retrievers.
Up Next: Should the Retrievers advance, they would either travel to No. 1 Vermont or host No. 5 Stony Brook in the America East Championship game on Saturday, March 10. Tip-off time is set for 11:00 a.m. and the game would be broadcast on ESPN2.