BURLINGTON – UMBC (12-5, 3-1 America East) sliced a 14-point second half deficit to two points down the stretch, but could not complete the rally, and fell to Vermont (14-5, 4-0 AE), 81-72, before a packed house of 2,341 at Patrick Gym.
The Retrievers trailed, 65-51, with 12:35 remaining, but dug in defensively and held Vermont to just two points over an eight-minute span. Attacking the basket, UMBC went on 13-2 run, capped by a Rodney Elliott's (Baltimore, Md./John Carroll) free throw with 4:41 to play.
Vermont would hit one-of-two free throws on the next possession, and Lyles converted a field goal to bring the visitors to within 68-66 at the 4:10 mark. UMBC would create a turnover on the other end and had a chance to tie the score, but Lyles' driving layup fell short of the mark.
Vermont Trae Bell-Haynes got to the free throw line on the next two Catamount possessions and converted all four attempts. Lyles equalized both times, again bringing UMBC to within two points, at 72-70, with 1:27 remaining.
But Bell-Haynes hitting a runner in the lane at the 1:00-minute mark and UMBC committed a turnover on its next possession. With the Retrievers pressing, Vermont converted a three-point play with 36 seconds left to increase the margin to 77-70 and win for the sixth consecutive time.
Lyles, who scored 51 points in two games versus Vermont a season ago, added eight rebounds and three steals in the contest. Darley shot a tidy 8-of-13 from the floor, two nights after scoring 29 points at Hartford.
Bell-Haynes scored 20 points to lead the Catamounts.
The Catamounts torched the nets at a 61.3 clip in the first half and built a 36-24 lead with 4:29 to play in the period. But the Retrievers stayed within striking distance by getting to the free throw line 11 times. Junior guard Jourdan Grant, hit both his drives to the basket and 4-of-7 free throws in 13 minutes of action.
Darley scored 11 first half points and Lyles added 10, but Vermont held UMBC to only 2-of-6 proficiency from behind the arc.
UMBC shot 54 percent from the floor, but just converted 6-of-16 from behind the arc and 12-of-18 from the charity stripe. Vermont cooled to shooting 50 percent over 40 minutes, at 29-of-58 and knocked down 18-of-24 free throws.
The Retrievers have a short turn-around as they return home to face Albany on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day at the RAC Arena. Tip-off time is set for 1:00 p.m.