Slow starts and inconsistent offensive play have dogged UMBC all season.
The Retrievers experienced the same problems again last night against Stony Brook in the America East opener. UMBC quickly fell behind by 14, caught up in the second half, then made just one basket in the final five minutes as the Seawolves pulled out a 69-61 victory before an announced 2,058 at RAC Arena.
UMBC (6-7, 0-1 league) has struggled in the early minutes of several games, being forced to spend long stretches playing catch-up. The Retrievers fell far behind early to American, Towson and Saint Louis, and that trend continued as Stony Brook (8-5, 1-0) scored 10 in a row and 20 of 24 to take a 20-6 lead. Bryan Dougher (19 points) and Muhammad El-Amin (19) sparked that run.
"You can't wait until teams punch you in the mouth," UMBC coach Randy Monroe said. "You've got to come out and play right from the very beginning. We didn't do that. This is definitely an eye-opener."
UMBC's Darryl Proctor scored a game-high 26 points and added 10 rebounds, making back-to-back baskets that tied the score at 54 with 5:19 left. But El-Amin and Danny Carter hit consecutive three-pointers, and Dougher made a jumper to give Stony Brook a 62-54 lead with 1:33 left.
UMBC missed six of its final seven shots after rallying to tie, and the Seawolves made seven of eight free throws in the final minute. Stony Brook shot 57 percent from the field; the Retrievers hit just 36 percent.
Proctor said that though UMBC won the America East championship last season, this is a new season, and he guaranteed the Retrievers will play better.
"We've got to make our own mark in the conference," Proctor said. "Everyone is going to have to step up and be a leader. We come out slow some games, and that hurts us."
The Retrievers again couldn't find any rhythm on offense. No other UMBC players than Proctor and Justin Fry (12 points) scored more than a half-dozen. The team also made just one of eight three-point attempts - the only shot from beyond the arc the Retrievers have hit in the past two games.
UMBC generated a number of good chances near the basket but couldn't finish. Sixteen of its 36 rebounds were on the offensive end, but the Retrievers did not capitalize.
"We get 16 offensive rebounds, but we miss layup after layup," Monroe said. "You've got to be able to finish. We did not do a particularly good job of that tonight."
The younger Stony Brook team - which started three freshmen - made its shots, which came mostly from the outside. The Seawolves connected on eight of 13 three-point attempts, with many of those shots falling at crucial times.
"We've played in a lot of tough places," Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell said. "They have been through the wringer, [and] they continue to get better."