EMMITSBURG - Most UMBC wins this season have come with an extended run or two, and last night's biggest one arrived late in the first half against Mount St. Mary's.
It was the second one, smaller in points but far more significant and telling, that proved to be the difference in fighting off a determined Mount team at Knott Arena.
The Retrievers saw a seemingly comfortable 16-point lead dissipate before freshman guard Rob Gogerty answered the call with a vital three-pointer that restored order, deflated the hosts and sent the Retrievers home with a 72-63 win.
Gogerty's basket came with 5:17 left, providing a 57-54 lead. Kareem Washington, who scored a team-high 14 points with eight rebounds, followed with a layup and Peter Mulligan connected on two free throws a minute later to complete a 7-0 run that finally got the Mountaineers off the Retrievers' backs.
The Retrievers improved to 10-6 overall and 6-3 in the Northeast Conference, while the Mount, which ended an eight-game losing streak with a win over Long Island on Saturday, fell to 2-14 and 1-8.
UMBC coach Tom Sullivan will take the win, but he would have liked it to come without the need for the second run.
"I think our kids just have to understand that this level requires a triumph of the will - you have to never underestimate the other kids' ability to assert their wills defensively" he said.
"And I think we just get caught in that dilemma many times where we think we put teams away and then all of a sudden we get a little lazy and they come right back. I don't think people are impressed leaving this building with the fact that UMBC won as much as they're impressed with the fact that Mount St. Mary's almost beat them. And I don't like that as a coach."
The minutes were distributed fairly even for the Retrievers and so were the points, with Mulligan (10 points) the only other player joining Washington in double figures. Gogerty had seven points and just one turnover in 33 minutes.
Neither team could muster a lead larger than four points in the first half until the Retrievers rattled off 13 straight to take control.
After the Mount's Jamion Christian scored a layup off a nifty back-door feed from Jerry Lloyd to tie the score at 20, the Retrievers scored the next 13 points - Washington accounting for eight - to build a 33-20 lead with 4:01 left in the half.
The Mountaineers ended the nearly four-minute drought with a free throw from Jason Carbone, who added two three-pointers in the final two minutes to cut the Retrievers' lead to 39-27 at the break.
The Mount made its second-half charge with UMBC leading 49-33. A follow from Angel Rivera started a 10-0 run that featured consecutive three-pointers from Lloyd and Rivera. The Mount tied the score at 54 before Gogerty connected with the key three-pointer.