A year ago, UMBC was applying the final touches to a 20-9 season that made the team the class of the Baltimore area's smaller Division I colleges.
Times have changed.
Despite another domination of the season-opening Battle of Baltimore, UMBC has already been eliminated from both postseason tournaments, marking the first time since 1991-92 - when the school was a member of the East Coast Conference - that it has not made the tournament field in its league.
Last night's 66-60 loss to Central Connecticut at the RAC Arena only underscored what has been a trying season.
"I never thought we'd been in this position, but here we are," Retrievers coach Tom Sullivan said. "The way our conference is set up, only the top eight go to the tournament. It's very disappointing to the coaches and the kids that we don't have a shot to put together a run of three games."
As has been its custom, UMBC (6-20, 4-13 NEC) was competitive last night, but it didn't have enough to get over the hump.
Central Connecticut (15-11, 12-5) handed the Retrievers their ninth straight loss, never trailing after a flurry of easy layups in the early part of the game provided a 10-point lead.
Central Connecticut has beaten UMBC in eight of their past 10 meetings.
UMBC's troubles actually began in the offseason after Sullivan had arranged a tough non-conference schedule that included Villanova, Maryland, Santa Clara and Princeton. The coach had anticipated everybody's return, but leading scorer Peter Mulligan, Ron Yates and 6-foot-9 Will McClurkin all transferred out of UMBC.
And injuries began to mount, with freshmen John Zitto and Bobby Fisk, Eugene Young and Andre Williams all going down early. The two point guards, Justin Wilson and Rob Gogerty, joined the injured list in the middle of the league season.
"We've been straddled with a fair amount of injuries, something we never really had before," Sullivan said.
CENTRAL CONNECTICUT - Robinson 9-15 2-3 20, Pittman 4-6 2-2 10, Barrett 4-6 0-0 8, Chiera 6-12 1-2 16, Scott 2-7 1-2 5, Dukes 0-0 -2 0, Poposki 1-2 5-7 7, Hargreaves 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-48 11-18 66.
UMBC - Zito 5-12 4-6 14, Williams 1-2 2-2 4, Feeley 3-5 0-3 6, Washington 4-17 2-2 10, Gogerty 1-3 0-0 2, Dinkins 4-8 0-0 10, Hatcher 6-10 2-4 14, Young 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-57 8-13 60. Half -Central Connecticut, 34-28. 3-point goals-Central Connecticut 3-7 (Chiera 3-6, Poposki 0-1), UMBC 4-13 (Washington 0-6, Dinkins 2-3, Hatcher 2-4). Rebounds-Central Connecticut 33 (Barrett 10), UMBC 30 (Zito 7). Assists-Central Connecticut 12 (Chiera 5), UMBC 18 (Gogerty 8). Total fouls-Central Connecticut 13, UMBC 19. Fouled out-None. Technical fouls-None. A-827.