Brian Fobbs scored 11 of his game-high 32 points in overtime — including the game-winning 3-pointer with 10.4 seconds remaining — to lift the Towson men’s basketball team to an 80-76 double-overtime win against host UMBC before an announced 2,476 at the UMBC Event Center in Catonsville on Tuesday night.
Junior forward Nakye Sanders added 13 points and seven rebounds for the Tigers, who ended a three-game losing skid and improved to 3-7.
With the score tied at 76, Towson had possession, but knew it would not be able to hold it for the final shot. Fobbs collected the ball from Sanders, used him as a screen, and calmly hoisted his shot from the left elbow for his sixth made 3-pointer in 12 attempts.
“It was just open for me,” said Fobbs, who made all 10 of his free-throw attempts and collected seven rebounds. “I didn’t mean to take the last shot. It was just there and I decided to take it. That was just confidence and Coach’s confidence in me and my teammates’ confidence in me, and I was confident in myself. So I just took it.”
Retrievers coach Ryan Odom said the staff emphasized staying with the ball during a timeout before Fobbs’ game-winning shot.
“You’d like to have that shot contested rather than we go under [the screen] and then we’re back,” he said. “And the two guys that were involved in the screen, [graduate student forward] Joe [Sherburne] and [junior swingman] Arkel [Lamar], knew. They called it right away, ‘My bad.’ But again, that’s the mental part of the game. You’ve got to know what the game plan is and what we’re trying to get accomplished.”
The Retrievers (6-5) had a chance to tie the score again, but Sherburne’s 3-point try bounced off the front rim, and Sanders was fouled while trying to get the defensive rebound with 1.8 seconds left. He missed the first free throw, but made the second to cement the victory.
Towson coach Pat Skerry acknowledged the significance of winning a game for the first time since Nov. 25 against Loyola Maryland.
“Every game is a Super Bowl,” he said. “I think when you’re in one [NCAA tournament]-bid leagues, it’s a good way to approach it. So hopefully when it really matters, you don’t get affected by that. … This one was big for us.”
The Tigers sank 23 of 28 free-throw attempts, and their prowess at the line was contrasted by UMBC’s troubles. The Retrievers missed 11 of 22 free-throw tries, including eight of 10 in the second half.
“I think it was a big thing,” Odom said. “Once one guy misses, then the next guy gets up there and it becomes a mental thing. We shot them really well at Drexel [11-for-13]. So I’m not sure why we didn’t here. A lot of times, it’s when the free throw is happening. There are a lot of mental errors in that game, and that’s a part of it as well – free throws.”
For much of the game, Towson owned the advantage, taking a seven-point lead twice in the first half, the largest of the night by either side. But UMBC chipped away at the deficit, getting a 3-pointer from Lamar from the right corner for a 47-46 edge with 10:25 left in the second half, the team’s first since 10-8 with 13:55 left in the first half.
Trailing 56-51 with less than four minutes remaining, the Tigers went on a 7-1 run to assume a 1-point lead. Junior guard K.J. Jackson made his first free throw, but missed his second, and Fobbs’ 3-point attempt before the buzzer clanged off the back rim.
In the first overtime, Fobbs scored six points — all on free throws — and redshirt senior guard Jordan McNeil hit back-to-back 3-pointers, but the Retrievers scored seven of the last 10 points, including a pair of free throws from Jackson with 7.7 seconds remaining, to tie the score at 71.
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Notes: McNeil finished with 10 points, and Skerry said he was encouraged to see the Baltimore resident and Mount Saint Joseph graduate battle through some unspecified injuries that have forced him to sit out three games. “I told him during the timeouts to stay shot-ready because someone’s going to get some open shots and knock them down,” Skerry said. “He’s worked so hard to get healthy and it’s good to see him have success. He’s such a good teammate and the type of guy you want to coach.” … UMBC sophomore forward Brandon Horvath added a team-high 19 points and six rebounds off the bench, but after a thunderous dunk, he was assessed a technical foul for staring at freshman forward Solomon Uyaelunmo. Odom said he had a discussion with Horvath, who pulled a similar maneuver in a 93-45 rout of Division III Shenandoah on Nov. 10. “He knows better,” Odom said. “That’s a point of emphasis for the refs. I haven’t looked at it yet, I haven’t seen it. It’s probably warranted. In a tight game, we have to be smarter than that. He knows. He won’t do it again.”