Down 18, UMBC authors thrilling 2nd half comeback to top UNH, 56-53
Catonsville — UMBC men’s basketball head coach Ryan Odom called a timeout, he had to. New Hampshire junior guard Mark Carbone had just hit a jumper in the paint to put the Wildcats up 18 points. The scoreboard showed the Retrievers trailing, 48-30, with 11:43 remaining on the clock.
Things were not looking good for his UMBC squad at home on senior day and facing a team that had won only four games all season.
The Retrievers (19-12, 11-5), coming off two consecutive losses where they struggled to hit shots from beyond the 3-point line, brought their troubles with them for their last regular season home game.
This game had looked to be a warm-up for the upcoming America East conference tournament, but instead the Retrievers were facing a third consecutive loss, having just made one of their 14 shots from 3-point land.
From that point on, however, Odom’s squad played ferocious defense and got a huge contribution off the bench from sophomore forward Brandon Horvath.
Horvath took advantage of his inside game, and poured in 12 of his 13 points during the comeback. His two made free throws at the 2:49 mark extended a Retrievers run of 10 points and cut the Wildcats (4-24, 2-13) lead to three at 50-47.
A made 3-pointer by New Hampshire freshman guard Nick Guadarrama was answered by UMBC junior guard Ricky Council II at 2:06.
Horvath then cut the lead to one, with a layup at the 58 second mark. But an empty possession caused by an offensive foul on UMBC junior guard K.J. Jackson, and subsequent foul on Council to stop the clock put Wildcats sophomore guard Josh Hopkins on the line, up by one with 11 second left in the game.
Hopkins, however, came up empty on the front end of a one-and-one, and Retrievers graduate student Joe Sherburne snagged the rebound.
Out of a timeout, Sherburne found freshmen guard Jose Placer on the right side and Placer buried a 3-pointer with two seconds left on the clock.
Fittingly, Horvath intercepted the inbounds pass from UNH and sunk a free throw to finish the scoring and complete the thrilling comeback. UMBC would end the game on a 26-5 run.
The Wildcats got a season-high 15 point effort from freshman guard Marque Maultsby and 10 points each from senior guard Jordan Reed and junior forward Chris Lester.
Sherburne led the Retrievers with 15 points. He and Horvath each pulled down six rebounds.
Injuries continue to plague the Retrievers, as freshman guard R.J. Eylte-Rock was unavailable, forcing Odom to go deep into his bench and play sophomore guard Josh Rosario for 17 minutes.
Rosario responded in typical UMBC fashion by turning in a solid defensive effort.
The Retrievers will now be off a week as they await their opponent that is yet to be determined in the America East conference tournament quarterfinals. The game will be Saturday, March 9th, at the UMBC Event Center.
At the conclusion of the game, Odom grabbed a microphone and addressed the exuberant crowd, thanking them for supporting the team all season and implored then to show up next week.
“March is here”, Odom exclaimed as he walked off the court. Indeed it is.