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Fans stand tall as teams fall short

RALEIGH, N.C. — RALEIGH, N.C. -- They had painted their faces in their schools' colors, and, above all, they had hope in their hearts. They believed that they could overcome long odds, but for fans of University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Mount St. Mary's, the trip to the NCAA Tournament was short - but memorable.

In their first NCAA appearance in school history, UMBC lost to Georgetown, 66-47, at the RBC Center yesterday. The Retrievers hung tough for the first 10 minutes of the game before the Hoyas used a 22-5 run to take control.

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The other school from Maryland had an even tougher opponent last night. Mount was routed by the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, North Carolina, 113-74. At times in the first half, the Mountaineers stayed close, but the Tar Heels were too deep and big and talented for the small school from Emmitsburg.

UMBC shipped two busloads of students down to Raleigh yesterday, swelling the Retrievers' crowd to almost 1,000. Rugby player Blaine Summers, 21, a senior, said: "We've never been here before, and we might never be back."

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After the loss to the No. 2-seeded Hoyas, UMBC coach Randy Monroe was appreciative of the fans.

"If you look at our game today, you can see a tremendous crowd there, black and gold, and people just so proud," he said. "And that's how I felt, just looking over there across from our bench, looking at the supporters that we had today."

North Carolina was playing 30 miles from its campus, and the crowd was a sea of Carolina blue. But Mount forward Sam Atupen only had ears only for his own fans' cheers. "Even though North Carolina had most of the building, we could hear our fans," Atupen said.

UMBC's basketball team put the school on the sports map: "You got all the media attention, you got fans, you got everyone wishing you well," said UMBC senior guard Brian Hodges. "For my collegiate career to end like this, it's a great feeling."

ken.murray@baltsun.com jeff.barker@baltsun.com


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