Early bird tickets for Baltimore’s BEST party on sale now!

UMBC takes 96-68 victory over St. Mary's


Last night's game at UMBC was one for the little man.

First, St. Mary's College used an unorthodox offense to take a one-point lead at the half. Then 6-foot Retrievers guards Dana Harris and Skip Saunders helped take it away.

Harris had a school- and fieldhouse-record 20 assists, and Saunders scored a game-high 24 points to lead UMBC to a 96-68 win over Division III St. Mary's.

For Harris, it was a game to remember.

"This was just a career game for me," said Harris, who also had six steals and five points. "There were a lot of times when I could've had the shot, but I passed it off to someone who had a better shot."

Many of his passes went to Saunders, who hit 10 of his 13 shots from the field, including four of six from three-point range.

"That was just incredible," said Saunders of Harris' performance. "It takes me four games to get 20 assists."

But Harris' record wasn't the only one. UMBC out-rebounded the Seahawks, 38-16, holding them to a record low for UMBC opponents. The Retrievers also came within two of tying their record of 62 points in a half, outscoring St. Mary's 60-31 in the second half.

The first half, though, was a different story.

St. Mary's scored the first six points of the game and built a 17-10 lead on Sean Keehan's 10-footer with 13:15 left in the half.

The Seahawks' offensive style of driving the ball in, then kicking it back out for the perimeter shot gave UMBC fits, and the Retrievers trailed 37-36 at the half.

"They kind of surprised us," said Saunders. "We didn't take them lightly; we just hadn't seen that style before."

Retrievers coach Earl Hawkins, who hadn't scouted the Seahawks, said he was equally surprised. "I really thought we'd be up at the half," he said. "I told them at halftime that we had to start playing our style of defense and stop letting them dictate."

And that's just what UMBC did. Leading, 52-45, early in the second half, the Retrievers went on a 23-2 run to put the game out of reach.

The win was the third straight for the Retrievers, who are 3-1 for the first time since the 1981-82 season. They didn't win three consecutive games all of last season.

The streak is not likely to continue , however, as UMBC travels to Syracuse and Florida State in its next two games.

For St. Mary's (2-6), it was easy to find a bright spot despite the final outcome.

"[Leading] was fun," said St. Mary's coach Bob Valvano. "If we play with that kind of intensity the rest of the year, we'll be able to beat anyone on our schedule. The reality, though, was [the Retrievers] were bigger, stronger and quicker than us."

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad