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Retrievers Complete Excellent Season

Ben Hall, Staff

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Although the UMBC Retrievers historic tournament run ended on Sunday against Kansas State, the team pulled off the biggest upset of NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament history this year. This was their first tournament appearance since 2008.  

The Retrievers had a successful regular season. 

They had a 12-6 non-conference record and a 12-4 conference record. Their non-conference schedule was a hard schedule. They started the year at SMU then days later traveled out to Arizona to take on the Wildcats. Although they did not win they fought hard and held their own against both teams.  

They also traveled 25 miles down the road to take on Maryland. Although they lost by 21, they were winning for a good portion of the game. But a late Maryland run secured the win for Maryland. 

They had a great season in conference as well. They only lost four games in the regular season. They opened conference play against New Hampshire and won 71-67. In the first 10 games in conference play they went 7-3 where they lost to the Vermont Catamounts twice.  

In the final 6 games they went 5-1. On the rematch against Vermont the Retrievers unveiled their new gym called the Event Center which will be where they play home games from now on. They ended up losing by 15 against a tough Vermont team. 

Two of their four losses were against the Catamounts who finished in first place in the American East conference. The Catamounts beat the Retrievers by double digits both games.      

The Retrievers opened the American East tournament against UMass Lowell, who they beat 89-77. The leading scorer for UMBC this game was their start player Jairus Lyles who scored 18 points.   

In the semifinals they faced the Hartford Hawks. The Retrievers beat the Hawks 75-60. KJ Maura led the Retrievers in scoring with 18 points.  

Winning the first two games of the conference tournament sent UMBC to Vermont with confidence. UMBC battled the first half and Jairus Lyles hit a three pointer at the buzzer to give them a two-point lead going into halftime. In the second half, Vermont held a lead as high as 10 points. But UMBC found a way to battle back.  

With 27 seconds left Joe Sherburne had a block on a layup attempt by the Vermont starting point guard Trae Bell-Haynes. Max Curran secured the rebound and gave the ball to Jairus Lyles. Lyles dribbled the clock down to 2.5 seconds before knocking down a deep three pointer at the top of the key.  

The shot went in with .5 second on the clock and Vermont threw the ball full court and it was batted out of the air.  

Jairus Lyles who was considered the hero of this game led the team in scoring with 27 points also won MVP of the conference tournament.     

Winning the conference tournament gave UMBC an automatic bid into the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament. The Retrievers were given a 16 seed and had to play the Virginia Cavaliers who were the overall number one seed in the tournament. 

Virginia was a very good match up for UMBC. Both teams are very disciplined and play great defense.  

Both teams played very strong defense in the first half and held one another to 21 points each.  

But in the second half UMBC got hot. They started the second half on 17-3 run and there was no stopping them from there. Virginia could not stop UMBC’s offense and when Virginia would score UMBC would answer with either a deep three pointer or a tough basket inside.  

The Retrievers went onto win the game 74-54 and once again were led by Jairus Lyles. Lyles ended up with 28 points.  

This win for the Retrievers made history. No number sixteen seed had ever beaten a number one seed in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Nobody thought that UMBC had any shot at winning this game and after the game all college basketball fans were shocked.  

As underdogs the Retrievers had many fans from other teams rooting for them, but many others were rooting for their brackets instead. 

The Retrievers faced the Kansas State Wildcats on Sunday in the Round of 32.  

The Retrievers started the game on a 7-0 run but Kansas State battled back. With 5:51 left in the first half Kansas State took a 17-15 lead.  

UMBC made three free throws late in the first half to put the score at 25-20 going into halftime.  

Jairus Lyles didn’t play so good early. He only had four points in the first half and both baskets were layups.  

Things didn’t get any better offensively for UMBC. Kansas State controlled the game throughout the second half.  

Every time UMBC needed a big shot to tie the game or even take the lead they could not hit it.  

After Jairus Lyles layup was blocked with 1:40 left to go in the game, Kansas State waited until 10 seconds left on the shot clock and drilled a pull up jump shot with 1:09 on the clock. This shot gave the Wildcats a 5-point lead.  

After Lyles missed a three with 51 seconds left, a transition dunk sealed the game for Kansas State.  

With 10 seconds left in the game the Retrievers subbed out their starting five who received a standings ovation forms the crowd.  

The final score of the game was 50-43.  

After the game all the Retrievers players went over and thanked all the fans for the support. 

Although the Retrievers lost in the Round of 32, this season was still memorable.     

 

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Retrievers Complete Excellent Season