UMBC falls to Kansas State in tough, defensive game

Cinderella No More.

Just as all good things must come to an end at some point, UMBC’s historic run came to an end last night in Charlotte after a 50-43 defeat in the hands of the #9 Kansas State Wildcats.

After scoring 74 points against the best defense in college basketball, the Retrievers managed just 43 points against the Wildcats.

Both teams started off the game poorly but UMBC managed to break out with an early 7-0 run. This was probably UMBC’s best chance in breaking away with a large and comfortable lead but it seemed as if the Retrievers were already comfortable as they right away began settling for highly contested and overall poor shots.

In the blink of an eye, the Wildcats came back and eventually took the 15-14 lead and the Retrievers would never lead again.

Most of the second half, the game was within one for the Retrievers.

The Retrievers the second half showed up defensively getting much-needed stops, turnovers, and drawing charges. Defense is what kept the Retrievers in this game, giving them chances to take the lead offensively on multiple occasions. But the Retrievers just couldn’t transition the excellent defense into execution on the other end.

The biggest difference offensively between the two halves was the fact that the Retrievers struggled to get open in the first half and were settling for wild shots late in the shot clock.

Jairus was affected by that more than any other Retriever, totaling only 4 points in the first half.

But in the second half, the Retrievers got open and they attacked much more consistently, yet they were outscored.

Although the Retrievers got open, they were unable to sink the majority of their shots and whenever they were going to the rim, it was more often that there was a kick out than a strong finish.

The Retrievers finished shooting 30%FG, 27.3%3pt and 50.0%FT on the night after shooting 54%FG, 50%3pt and 71.4%FT vs. UVA. Much of that should be credited to Kansas State’s suffocating and well-executed defense but the Retrievers made plenty of mistakes and at the end of the night shot themselves in the foot repeatedly.

UMBC all season has been top 5 in 3pts made because of their more than capable shooters in Joe Sherburne, Arkel Lamar, K.J. Maura and Jairus Lyles but last night none of them were in sync not only with their shots but with one another. There was little to none chemistry, trust and confidence in one another which led to more focus on isolation and one on one battles which explains the fact that the Retrievers who are known for being a team that can generate steals and turnovers, ended up losing the turnover battle.

Jairus Lyles and Joe Sherburne combined for 42 points on 14/22 shooting(64%) against AGAIN the number one defense in college football. Last night the two combined for 12 points on 4/24 shooting(16%). Sherburne going 0-9 would arguably be the biggest factor in this loss.

Kansas State didn’t play that much better than UMBC, they shot just 40% and hit only one three-pointer(1/12) but we’re exceptionally better from the free throw line shooting. Both teams got to the line 18 times but UMBC only converted 9/18(50%) while the Wildcats drained 13/18(72%).

As a fan: obviously any loss is disappointing but as a Retriever fan for the last 7 months, knowing what this team is capable of, seeing the dominating performance vs. the number one team in the nation to see the team not playing like themselves, to see the team doing so much on defense but not being able to convert on offense for so long, being within one possession for so long and then losing by 7 was honestly one of the most heartbreaking moments as a sports fan in general. It was a game the Retrievers could’ve turned around at almost any moment and the fact that we couldn’t execute what we did throughout this season against this mediocre Kansas State team to make this a loss that was extremely hard to bear.

But nonetheless, the Retrievers made history this tournament and in doing so won over the hearts of millions of people throughout the nation. 20 years from now, the winner of the tournament may not be remembered, the 4 teams left in the final four may not be remembered but the first ever team to beat the number 1 team in the nation while being the 16th seed will never be forgotten.

For all we know this may be the beginning of an era for UMBC basketball as transfers and local talent now will have this school on their radar to hopefully be a part of making another historic run.

As long as our boys are led by Ryan Odom, we’ll be good.

Nahom Nega

I'm a current freshman at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, majoring in Media and Communications and Finance. I'm a huge Ravens, Wizards, Arsenal, Retrievers, Blue Devils and Lebron Fan. I've been writing for MD Sports Blog since October of 2017.

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