Men's Basketball Edges UML, 83-75; Posts First Back-to-Back 20-Win Seasons in 32 Years of DI Play

photo by: Brian Gonzalez
photo by: Brian Gonzalez

BALTIMORE – For the first time in 32 years of NCAA Division I play, UMBC has posted back-to-back 20-win seasons, as the Retrievers surged late past UMass Lowell, 83-75, on Senior Day at the UMBC Event Center.

For the ninth consecutive time this season, the Retrievers posted a victory after suffering a setback and improved to 20-10 overall and 11-4 in America East play. With the win, UMBC is assured of finishing no worse than third place in the final standings, but would have to win at Hartford in the regular season finale on Tuesday to claim second place.

The River Hawks, who will compete in the America East Playoffs for the first time next Saturday, fell to 11-17, 5-10.   

It was a non-senior, junior forward Joe Sherburne (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) who led the way, posting his first double-double of the season with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

UMass Lowell hit 12 of its first 18 shots of the second half and took a 65-60 lead with 8:33 remaining. But then, the Retrievers got the big run they needed, outscoring their guests, 17-3, over the next five minutes to take a 77-68 advantage at the 3:34 mark.

Graduate student guard Jairus Lyles (Silver Spring, Md./DeMatha) put the Retrievers ahead for good at 70-69 with a trey from the right wing at the 6:28 mark. Junior post Nolan Gerrity (Cleveland, Ohio) hit a pair of layups on great feeds from a double-teamed Lyles and senior guard Jourdan Grant (Bowie, Md./Archbishop Spalding) added to the run with his third trey of the game from the right corner.

All three Retriever seniors played key roles in the victory. Lyles scored 16 points and added six rebounds and six assists. Grant, who earned the start today and set a new school record by playing in his 123rd career game, scored 9 points and added six rebounds and four assists. Senior guard K.J. Maura (San Juan, P.R.) scored 11 points and added six assists, as the Retrievers amassed 23 helpers on 31 made field goals.

The Retrievers surged out to a 27-19 lead, hitting of 10 of 17 shots in the first 10 minutes of play. But UMBC committed six turnovers in a span of 5:40 and the River Hawks took advantage, using a 15-3 run to capture a 33-30 lead with 3:47 to play in the period. The Retrievers would score nine of the half's final 11 points and went into the locker room with a 39-35 advantage.

UMBC found the range from behind the arc today, converting 12 of 24 attempts, besting the double-digit mark for treys for the first time in eight games. The River Hawks got much of their damage done inside, hitting 20-of-43 shots inside the arc, but just 5-of-22 from long range.

Sherburne buried 4-of-7 shots from behind the arc and moved past former teammate Rodney Elliott and into 20th position on the all-time scoring list with 1,036 points. He is also just four treys away from becoming the seventh Retriever to convert 200 in a career.

UML senior forward Jahad Thomas matched Sherburne for scoring honors with 21 points and added a game-high 12 rebounds.

Notes: The 20 wins is now tied for third-most in school history… The total of 41 victories over the past two seasons equals the 41 wins that the program had achieved in the previous seven seasons combined.