Everything that could go wrong for the UMBC men's basketball team did during the second half of its Northeast Conference game against Long Island. Until the end, that is.
That's when Terence Ward scored the final five points of the game to lift his team a 55-54 win. His three-pointer with 2.8 seconds left was the game-winner, helping the Retrievers (9-13, 5-7 NEC) offset a half of 36 percent shooting, 12 turnovers and a squandered 13-point halftime lead.
"I'm disappointed with the way we played, but I have to be happy with getting a win," UMBC coach Tom Sullivan said after his team broke a two-game losing streak.
It looked like a different story with 2: 59 left in the game, when a Karim Smith jump shot gave the Blackbirds (6-15, 3-9 NEC) their first lead, 52-50, since the 13: 13 mark of the first half.
With the Retrievers unable to hold on to the ball, an LIU team with eight uniformed players began running and gunning as if it had twice as many. Led by Smith (16 points) and Antawn Dobie (game-high 19 points), the Blackbirds went on a 16-5 run to get within striking distance, then used a 9-0 run to take a lead that appeared safe.
But Long Island couldn't sustain its focus in the final minutes. The Blackbirds led 54-50 with 27 seconds left, but committed three turnovers in the final 1: 16.
The second came after a Ward jumper with 20 seconds left, when Ward and Isaac Green teamed up to steal the ball from Maurice Yearwood. With six fouls to give, LIU could have prevented UMBC from getting a good shot off by fouling.
After pulling within two points with 20 seconds left on Ward's mid-range jumper, Ward and Isaac Green forced a steal, setting Ward's game-winner.
Blackbird center Cheikh Fall overran Ward, who was coming off a pick, creating a clear shot for the guard.
"We let it slip away," said Ward, who tied Kennedy Okafor for team-high honors with 16 points. "Fortunately for us, there was enough time to grab it again."
St. Francis (N.Y.) 80, Mt. St. Mary's 69: The visiting Terriers (13-8, 8-3) won their seventh straight game by rallying from a 13-point, first-half deficit to send the Mountaineers (5-16, 4-8) to their fifth straight defeat in Northeast Conference action.
Robert Balgac finished with 20 points to lead the Mount. Richy Dominguez scored 22 with 11 rebounds to lead St. Francis,
The Saints rode an early 10-0 scoring run for an 18-9 lead. Anthony Walker led Loyola with 15.
Villa Julie 79, Mary Washington 65: Jermaine Smith scored 25 as the Mustangs (6-15) defeated the Eagles (8-12).