BALTIMORE – UMBC (7-3) led for over 32 minutes against local rival Towson (7-4), but the visiting Tigers scored the game's final six points and nipped the Retrievers, 73-72, before 1,311 energized fans at the RAC Arena.
Towson junior guard Mike Morsell capped the late game rally with a driving layup with 12 seconds remaining. The Retrievers got possession under the basket with 7.5 seconds to play, but junior guard Jairus Lyles' ten-footer in the paint glanced off the front of the rim with two ticks left and the rebound could not be corralled as time expired.
Leading 40-27 at halftime, UMBC scored on the first possession of the second half to lead by 15. But Towson, driving to the basketball possession after possession, outscored the hosts, 26-10, and took its first lead since the opening moments at 53-52 at the midpoint of the stanza.
But the Retrievers would respond as Sherburne buried treys to give UMBC leads of 57-56 and 66-63, the final time with 3:45 remaining.
UMBC seemed to have all the momentum, when Lyles banked in a trey from the top of the key to put his side ahead, 72-67 with 1:41 to play. But Towson would convert two free throws on its next possession, and Lyles misfired on the offensive end and fouled Morsell on Towson's break-out. Morsell hit two free throws to cut the gap to 72-7he 1 with 49 seconds to play.
Lyles' corner jumper with 24 seconds left was short, and Towson quickly pushed the ball down the floor, where Morsell hit the game-winning shot.
UMBC hit 10-of-23 shots from behind the arc (43.5 percent), but struggled from the free throw line, converting only 8-of-18. The Retrievers shot 47.4 percent overall and committed only 11 miscues.
But Towson netted 19-of-29 second half shots and finished at 49.1 percent for the contest. The Tigers knocked down 16-of-22 free throw attempts.
Morsell had a big second half, scoring 10 of his 14 points and capturing 6 of his 10 caroms in the final 20 minutes.
UMBC held narrow four-point leads at the first three media breaks of the first half, but finished the half on a 12-5 surge to take a 40-27 advantage at the half. Darley had a brilliant all-around first half, hitting 8-of-12 from the floor, including 3-of-5 from behind the arc, and added four caroms and three assists.
The Retrievers had success inside in the first half, hitting 12-of-18 shots inside the arc and outscoring TU in the paint, 16-10.
But that changed in the second half, as Towson outscored UMBC, 30-6 , in the paint and outrebounded the smaller Retrievers, 22-9, in the final frame and 37-30 for the game.
Darley added six rebounds and five assists to his stat line, while Sherburne, who entered the game No. 9 in the nation in 3-point percentage, converted 4-of-7 from long distance and 6-of-9 overall.
The 7-3 start still ties UMBC's best in its 30-year NCAA Division I history.
The Retrievers have little time to rest, as high-scoring Citadel (7-5) invades the RAC Arena on Monday evening. The Bulldogs lead the nation in scoring, averaging 102.5 points per game.