BALTIMORE – Graduate student guard Jairus Lyles scored a game-high 27 points as UMBC edged Coppin State, 81-74, at the RAC Arena.
The Retrievers have won seven of their last ten games and improved to 7-5 on the season, while the stubborn Eagles' squad fell to 0-11.
Lyles also moved into tenth place on UMBC's all-time scoring list, now standing at 1,273 points in just 62 games played (20.5 points per game). He has scored 20 or more points in 36 career games.
Three other Retrievers scored in double figures, including sophomore forward Arkel Lamar (Bridgeport, Conn.), who posted his third double-double of the year with 14 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. Junior forward Joe Sherburne (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) added 15 points, all courtesy of three-balls, while senior guard Jorudan Grant (Bowie, Md./Archbishop Spalding) added 10 points.
Coppin State graduate student guard Karonn Davis led his squad with 22 points.
It looked like the Retrievers would cruise after scoring the first five points of the second half and taking a 48-29 lead. But the Eagles, who gave U.Conn a battle on Saturday, scored 14 consecutive points to trim the gap to 48-43 with 14:08 remaining.
But the three-ball would bail out the Retrievers each time Coppin State threatened. The Eagles made it a one-possession game after a Davis trey with 5:04 remaining. But Lyles, who tied his career best with five treys, knocked one down from the right baseline on the next possession. Moments later, CSU came within 68-64, but Sherburne buried a trifecta from the other side to restore the advantage to 71-64 with 2:14 remaining. UMBC converted 8-of-10 free throws in the final 1:43 to seal the victory.
UMBC, which led the nation with 137 treys made entering play, knocked down 14 (of 34, 41.2 percent). They have made ten treys or more in 11 consecutive games.
The Retrievers snapped a four-game slide to their neighbors, whose campus is six miles north of UMBC's Hilltop Circle location.
UMBC struggled out of the gate, hitting only 8 of their first 23 field goal attempts and 3-of-12 from behind the arc. The Eagles took a 25-22 at the 8:40 mark of the stanza, but the hosts buried four treys in an 18-0 run and surged in front 40-25 with 2:36 to play in the half. Lamar started the rally with a trey, followed by a steal and dunk, and then Sherburne knocked down 3-of-4 treys.
The Retrievers took a 43-29 lead into the locker room, allowing the visitors zero second-chance points.
In the midst of final exams, UMBC returns to action on Sunday, Dec. 17 when they host Northern Kentucky. The Retrievers were the third-most improved team in the nation last season, while the Norse were No. 4 and won the Horizon League Tournament to earn an NCAA Tournament berth.