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Cinderella story ends

RALEIGH, N.C. — RALEIGH, N.C. -- All the accolades and excitement from UMBC's first NCAA tournament will still be there one day to remember. But yesterday, the Retrievers were left frustrated by a powerful, tournament-tested Georgetown team that dominated inside and advanced to the second round with a 66-47 victory.

Smaller at almost every position, the 15th-seeded Retrievers were victimized by the Hoyas' defense and balanced offensive game. Eager to contain 7-foot-2 Georgetown center Roy Hibbert, UMBC sent extra defenders to the low post. But it proved difficult to pack the middle and also defend the perimeter.

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"We had to give up something," UMBC coach Randy Monroe said. "You have to pick your poison."

Moments earlier, Monroe had briefly halted his post-game comments and choked back tears as he spoke about the Retrievers, who won their first America East Conference title this season.

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"I can't be more proud of this group of young men," the fourth-year coach said. "Nothing can dampen this, not a loss in the NCAA tournament can take away what was accomplished this year at UMBC. I think we brought a lot of people together."

Since earning their tournament bid a week ago, the Retrievers had studied famous NCAA upsets -- particularly Vermont over Syracuse two years ago -- and allowed themselves to believe they might become the fifth No. 15 seed to upset a No. 2. The Retrievers needed to play as loosely and shoot as well as they did in routing Hartford in their conference title game -- the first UMBC game ever on national television.

But this was Georgetown, the nation's stingiest team in field-goal percentage defense.

"We saw them on tape, and we thought their defense was good," forward Matt Spadafor a said. "Their defense was even better in person."

UMBC's 47 points were a season low, and the Retrievers went more than seven minutes of the first half without scoring.

Time after time, Georgetown slapped away UMBC passes, particularly in the lane. The Retrievers, one of the nation's best teams at guarding the ball, committed 15 turnovers. The Hoyas defensively "are very long, very rangy, very athletic, quick, and they are deceptive," Monroe said.

UMBC occasionally showed its frustration.

With the Retrievers trailing 23-17, Monroe stomped so loudly along the sideline after a botched UMBC pass that the noise could be heard on the other side of the court.

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Later, with Georgetown ahead 48-29, UMBC forward Darryl Proctor continued to claw at Hibbert after the Hoyas center secured a rebound. Hibbert responded with an elbow -- it didn't connect--- that seemed to say "keep away."

"Yes, we're competitors in this locker room," said UMBC forward Cavell Johnson, one of three seniors who played their last games. "Even though nobody else thought we had a chance, we believed in ourselves. It's hard to accept."

Hibbert only scored 13 points but was there when Georgetown needed him.

Down by 19, UMBC pulled to 50-37 on a pair of free throws by Proctor, who led all scorers with 16 points.

But the Hoyas immediately looked inside to Hibbert, who scored Georgetown's next five points to keep the Hoyas comfortably in front.

"Roy is such an anchor down low," said Hoyas guard Jonathan Wallace, who scored 13 points.

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The Retrievers were buoyed by a contingent of about 1,000 fans, many wearing gold T-shirts picturing black retrievers.

Monroe began removing his starters from the game with about 1:30 remaining. He left in Brian Hodges, a graduate student in his final year of eligibility. Hodges had 11 points -- the 69th time in his career he scored in double figures.

"I just wanted him to play right to the end," Monroe said. "I wanted to say 'Hey, thank you very much' in my own way," the coach said.

jeff.barker@baltsun.com


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