The University of Maryland Baltimore County basketball team seems to be peaking when all coaches want their teams to get hot -- tournament time.
UMBC (4-21, 3-8) won its second straight East Coast Conference game for the first time this season, defeating Drexel, 77-73, last -- night, behind a career-high 27 points by sophomore guard Derell Thompson.
The loss ended a four-game winning streak for Drexel and dropped the Dragons out of second place.
The Retrievers are in sixth place in the ECC with the conference tournament at Towson State about a week away (beginning March 2).
Thompson hit both ends of a one-and-one free-throw opportunity with 38 seconds left, giving the Retrievers a 76-73 lead and forcing Drexel to go for a three-point shot on its next possession.
Drexel (11-15, 6-5) went to its ace long-range shooter, Michael Thompson, who already had made six of eight three-point attempts to bring the Dragons back from a 17-point, first-half deficit.
Michael Thompson went for the tying three-pointer with 24 seconds left, but the shot bounced off the rim, and, five seconds later, Drexel's Dan Leahy fouled Derrick Reid.
Reid made one free throw for a 77-73 lead that held up in the final seconds, as Leahy missed a three-pointer with 11 seconds left and Michael Thompson lost control of the ball as he drove the lane with three seconds remaining.
Michael Thompson scored 23 for the Dragons, and center Jon Raab had 21 points and 15 rebounds for Drexel.
UMBC coach Earl Hawkins said of the ECC tournament: "We're going there to win it. We've got confidence in ourselves now, and that has been one of the main things lacking."
UMBC went on a 12-0 run midway through the first half to take a 32-17 lead with 6 minutes, 24 seconds left before halftime and built the advantage to 37-20 with 5:28 remaining.
But Drexel came back behind Thompson to reduce the lead to 43-39 at halftime.