UMBC men come alive in second half, beat Albany, 68-60, for first win in new UMBC Event Center

UMBC struggled throughout the first half of Sunday’s men’s basketball game with Albany. The physical Great Danes repeatedly pushed the Retrievers around inside and outside, a big reason Albany often held a double-digit lead.

The second half was a much different story. UMBC played tougher defense while Jairus Lyles and K.J. Maura sparked a run in the final 10 minutes as the Retrievers rallied for a 68-60 victory over the Great Danes in an America East matchup at the UMBC Event Center. This was the Retrievers' first win in two tries in the new building, which opened Feb. 3.


Albany crushed the Retrievers, 83-39, on Jan. 21. The Great Danes certainly appeared in command early in this one and held a 37-28 halftime lead. UMBC (19-9, 10-3) could not do much inside in those first 20 minutes as Albany held a 20-9 edge in rebounding and also often found open shots from the outside.

In the second half, the Retrievers pressured the ball more and played better down low as well as on the boards — they were outrebounded by just one in the final 20 minutes. The defense forced nine turnovers and got 13 points from them, a big reason UMBC outscored the Great Danes 40-23.


“Just a gritty, gritty effort,” UMBC coach Ryan Odom said. “We were a little disjointed [early]. The second half, it’s the most focused, the most mentally tough our guys have been since I’ve been here.”

Lyles scored 18 of his 22 points in the second half, and Maura got 11 of his 19 in the final 20 minutes. Each finished the game 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.

They played a big role in helping UMBC score 25 of the game’s final 34 points and remain in second place in the conference, one game ahead of Hartford, which beat first-place Vermont on Sunday.

“It boosts our confidence, definitely,” Lyles said. “We got beat pretty [badly] at Albany. We knew we had to get this win.”

Albany (20-9, 8-6) held a 51-43 lead thanks to a layup by Joe Cremo with 10:06 remaining. Cremo (25 points) scored 18 in the first half, but coach Will Brown said a bug bothered his guard in the second half.

Brandon Horvath came off the bench and made back-to-back 3-pointers for UMBC, sandwiched around a jumper from Albany's Travis Charles (12 points), which sliced the lead to 53-49. Horvath’s second three started an 8-0 run that Maura finished with his own 3-pointer, which gave the Retrievers their first second-half lead at 54-53.

The lead swung back and forth after that until UMBC scored 12 of the game’s final 15 points. Lyles had six of those, and Maura added four.

UMBC’s defense held Albany to three baskets in the final 13 minutes. The Retrievers fared much better with defense and rebounding thanks to efforts from Daniel Akin (seven rebounds), Arkel Lamar (four rebounds) and others.

Joe Sherburne (14 points) scored nine points in the first half and kept UMBC close while Lyles sat for a long stretch after picking up two early fouls.

The Great Danes, playing their third straight road game, appeared worn down in the final minutes, which helped the Retrievers rally.

“I think we were a tired basketball team in the last eight to 10 minutes,” Brown said. “I think you have to give credit to UMBC for making more plays in the second half and down the stretch.”

ALBANY (20-9, 8-6)—Charles 5-10 2-2 12, Campbell 2-7 0-0 4, Stire 3-6 2-2 8, Cremo 8-18 4-5 25, Nichols 3-10 0-0 8, Foster 0-1 0-0 0, Anderson 1-6 0-0 3. Totals 22-58 8-9 60.


UMBC (19-9, 10-3)—Akin 0-1 0-1 0, Lyles 8-14 6-6 22, Maura 5-10 6-6 19, Sherburne 6-11 0-0 14, Lamar 1-5 0-0 2, Horvath 2-2 0-0 6, Gerrity 1-3 1-2 3, Grant 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 24-49 13-15 68.

Halftime—Albany 37-28. 3-point goals—Albany 8-23 (Cremo 5-10, Nichols 2-6, Anderson 1-6, Campbell 0-1), UMBC 7-18 (Maura 3-6, Horvath 2-2, Sherburne 2-5, Grant 0-1, Lamar 0-1, Lyles 0-3). Fouled out—None. Rebounds—Albany 32 (Cremo 9), UMBC 21 (Akin 7). Assists—Albany 9 (Nichols 5), UMBC 15 (Maura 6). Total fouls—Albany 15, UMBC 15. A—1,344 (4,024).

On Saturday, UMBC lost to Vermont as it celebrated the opening of the $85 million Event Center, a gleaming new 5,000-seat arena that replaces the 45-year-old Retriever Activities Center.

After two years of construction, the UMBC Event Center will make its debut on Feb. 3 at 4 p.m. with a men's basketball game against the Vermont Catamounts.

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