Burlington, Vt. – For the third time in 15 America East Conference seasons and the first time since 2009, the UMBC Retrievers will compete in the league's championship game. Second-seeded UMBC (23-10) will face top-seeded and defending champion Vermont (27-6) at Patrick Gymnasium on Saturday, March 10, with an 11:00 a.m. tip-off on tap. The winner receives an automatic berth to the 2018 NCAA Championships.
The game will be broadcast on ESPN2, with Doug Sherman, Mark Plansky and Olivia Harlan on the call and on Westwood One.
Retriever Update: UMBC advanced to the title game with home victories over UMass Lowell (89-77) and Hartford (75-60) in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively. Coupled with two wins to close the regular season, the Retrievers have won four straight for the first time this season. They had failed five previous times to extend a three-game winning streak to four.
Graduate student guard Jairus Lyles (Silver Spring, Md./DeMatha) continues to lead UMBC in scoring at 19.9 points per game. The America East First Team honoree just became the first player in school history to record a pair of 500-point seasons and is 2 points shy of two 600-point campaigns. He remains in 5th place on UMBC's all-time scoring list with 1,684 points.
Senior backcourt mate K.J. Maura (San Juan, P.R.) (11.5 ppg, 5.3 apg) has been the team's top producer in the post-season, averaging 17.0 points and six assists in the two victories. Maura is ranked 13th in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio.
The Retrievers reached the title contest in both 2008 and 2009, defeating Hartford, 82-65, to win their lone crown in 2008 and falling to Binghamton, 61-51, the following season.
Under Head Coach Ryan Odom, for the first time in 32 years of NCAA Division I play, UMBC has posted back-to-back 20-win seasons. They recorded back-to-back double-digit win seasons for the first time since the 2007-08 and 2008-09 campaigns. The 44 wins over the last two seasons has surpassed the program's previous best two-year DI total of 39 ('07-'08/'08-'09). UMBC won a total of 41 games in the seven previous seasons.
At 23-10, the Retrievers surpassed last year's best total of games over .500 at +10. 2017-18 marks just the second time in 32 seasons of NCAA Division I competition that the program has been 13 games over .500. The other year was 2007-08 when the high water mark was +16 (24-8).
UMBC's current total of 23 wins are now the second-best total wins in 32 years of NCAA Division I competition. The 2007-08 title team finished at 24-9.
The Retrievers enter the contest with a four-game road winning streak. The four consecutive road wins is the longest streak since a four-gamer in 2007-08.
UMBC's defensive scoring average of 69.7 points per game ranks 104 in the nation, a far cry of the ranking of 288 (77.2 ppg) a season ago.
Glance at the Catamounts: Top-seeded Vermont (27-6) outscored Stony Brook by 15 over the game's final 19 minutes to down the Seawolves in the #AEPlayoffs semifinals, 70-51.The reigning champion Catamounts will play in their 12th title game in program history and 11th since 2003. Drew Urquhart, a second-team All-Conference selection, scored 18 of his game-high 19 points in the second half to lead the Catamounts.
Vermont has won 19 of their last 20 contests, with the only loss coming at Patrick Gym to Hartford, 69-68 on Feb. 18.
Two-time America East POY senior guard Trae Bell-Haynes leads a balanced attack with 14.8 points per game. Five Catamounts average in double figures, including junior guard Ernie Duncan, who leads the team with 64 treys.
The Series: Vermont has posted 23 consecutive victories over UMBC, including 11 straight in Burlington, and lead the all-time series, 32-4. The Retrievers' last win in the series occurred on March 9, 2008, 73-64, in the America East semifinals. In America East Tournament play, Vermont has won five of six meetings.