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UMBC wastes 15-point lead, but holds off Brooklyn, 78-75


NEW YORK -- The University of Maryland Baltimore County lost a 15-point second-half lead, then used a basket and three late foul shots to turn back Brooklyn College, 78-75, in an East Coast Conference game last night.

From a tie at 73, Skip Saunders hit a 16-foot jump shot with 1 minute, 14 seconds remaining, and, with 15 seconds left, Brian Watkins made two free throws for a 77-73 UMBC lead. Brooklyn came right back to score a basket, but Emmanuel Fasaye connected on one of two foul shots with four seconds left for the Retrievers.

The first half was one of spurts by each side. Brooklyn went up, 9-0. UMBC came back with a 28-10 drive, only to have Brooklyn retaliate to get a tie at 36. Dion Andrews just beat the buzzer for a 38-36 UMBC lead at the half.

UMBC put on another strong run, building a 59-44 margin with 12:36 to go, only to have the Knights draw within 71-70 with 2:43 left. Saunders' layup made it 73-70, and Dexter Gordon's three-pointer tied it with 1:58 left.

UMBC took care of Rafael Solis, the leading field-goal percentage shooter in Division I (69 percent), as Kevin Bellinger, a Brooklyn resident, and Fasaye took turns handling the Brooklyn star. In the process, however, Brenton Birmingham broke loose for a career-high 31 points, 14 of them coming in his team's second-half rally.

The Retrievers shot 48 percent from the field, their second-best mark of the season. They had four scorers in double figures, led by Saunders and Stanley Wright at 13.

This was the second conference win in a row for UMBC, which had broken a four-game losing streak with a win at Buffalo last Wednesday.

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