Men's Basketball Rallies From 24 Down, But Can't Finish Off Maine in 83-80 Setback

Bangor, Maine – UMBC rallied from a 24-point deficit to take a late second half lead, but host Maine prevailed, 83-80, at Cross Insurance Center.

UMBC senior forward Chase Plummer (Plainfield, N.J./St. Patrick) led all scorers with 23 points, while standout freshman guard Rodney Elliott (Baltimore, Md./John Carroll) added 21.

The Retrievers trailed, 55-31, with 1:32 remaining in the first half and were still behind, 61-40, with 14:50 remaining. But UMBC's pressure defense, missing in the first half, forced nine second-half Maine turnovers and aided in a huge rally. Over the next 6:38, the Retrievers would outscore the Black Bears, 26-4, capped by Plummer's elbow jumper, which gave the visitors a 66-65 advantage with 8:12 to play.

The lead would change hands eight more times and there would be four ties until the four-minute mark of the game. Sophomore guard Aaron Morgan (Langhorne, Pa./Council Rock North) hit one of two free throws to tied the score at 73-all with 4:19 remaining. But Maine sharpshooter Zarko Valjarevic hit a jumper to give Maine the lead for good 16 seconds later.

Elliott, who hit 12-of-17 from the charity stripe, missed a pair on UMBC's next possession and Maine's Ethan Mackey gave the hosts a four-point lead on a lay-in with 3:02 remaining.

The Retrievers continued to be plagued by poor free throw shooting, as they missed two-of-four on two later possessions.

However, UMBC would get a key stop when junior forward Devarick Houston (Jonesboro, Ga./Mays) blocked his fifth shot of the afternoon with 26 seconds left and the Retrievers called time out, trailing, 81-80, with 26 seconds remaining. With 11 seconds left, Elliott attempted a lob to Houston, but the high-flying wing, could not catch the ball cleanly enough to finish the alley-oop dunk.

UMBC quickly fouled Maine's Troy Reid-Knight, who hit the two free throws. Plummer missed the game-tying three-point attempt with five seconds left, but Elliott snared the rebound and fed senior Quentin Jones (Baltimore, Md./Mount St. Joseph) in the right corner. Jones' attempt from behind the arc hit drew iron as the buzzer sounded.

The Retrievers drew 29 Maine fouls and made 40 trips to the free throw line, but missed 19 attempts. Maine was 20-of-30 from the charity stripe.

UMBC (7-15, 3-6 America East) hit 42.6 percent from the floor (26-of-61), while Maine cooled in the second half, finishing at 47.4 percent (27-of-57). The Black Bears (5-16, 3-6) were 9-of-18 from behind the arc.

Plummer hit 8-of-14 shots from the floor, 6-of-11 from the free throw line and led UMBC with eight rebounds in 24 minutes of action. Elliott added seven caroms, three assists and two steals. 

Valjarevic, who scored 24 points in the first meeting, a 79-76 UMBC win on Jan. 11, shared team scoring honors with Xavier Pollard. Each guard scored 18 points, and Pollard added seven assists and three blocked shots.

UMBC's first two possessions of the game ended in made three-point field goals by guards and Morgan. But the Black Bears began their torrid first half from the floor by scoring the game's next 15 points to take a 15-6 advantage with just 4:49 elapsed in the half.

The Retrievers would get within 20-14 at the 12:03 mark, but Maine outscored UMBC, 36-22, over the final 11:41 of the stanza. The Black Bears buried 8-of-13 from behind the arc and drew assists on 13 of 19 field goals. By contrast, the Retrievers misfired on 10-of-19 free throw attempts and trailed, 56-36, at the break.

The 56 points is the most allowed in any half by the Retrievers in 2013-14.

UMBC opens a three-game homestand by hosting UNH on Wednesday, Feb. 5 at the RAC Arena.