UMBC impresses in win over Vermont

Catonsville — Junior guard K.J. Jackson tallied 18 points on 7-13 from the field as he led his UMBC team to a 65-56 victory at home against the Vermont Catamounts (21-6, 11-2) Thursday evening.

Jackson was the catalyst the entire evening for the Retrievers offense, seemingly scoring at will when he drove into the paint. Even when he wasn’t scoring, Jackson played tough defense, grabbing three defensive rebounds and accumulating two steals in 36 minutes of playing time.

Jackson’s exploits, along with junior forward Arkel Lamar, who finished with 15 points, helped the Retrievers (18-10, 10-3) dominate the Catamounts in the paint, 40-24.

The Retrievers defense was extremely tough all evening. They held Vermont to just 17-47 from the field and 19 points under their season average.

The Catamounts could never seem to build momentum, partly because they committed 16 turnovers, several of which were unforced.

Vermont held the lead just once during the game when they inched ahead, 20-19, with 3:44 remaining in the first half. The next five points were then scored by UMBC junior guard Ricky Council II, and the Retrievers took a slim 26-25 lead into the locker room.

The game was still a one-point affair early in the second half, but the Retrievers would go on a 12-4 run over the next 5:37.

Vermont tried to get back in the game, cutting the lead to 44-38 with 11:32 left on the clock. However, UMBC answered with a 7-0 run over the next 3:01 to effectively putting the game on ice.

The Retrievers frustrated Vermont leading-scorer junior forward Anthony Lamb throughout the contest. Though Lamb did finish with 14 points, it was seven points under his average and he was only 5-14 from the field.

Perimeter defense was clearly a focus of head coach Ryan Odom, as his team held the Catamounts to 4-24 from three-point range, less than half their season average of 34%.

The Retrievers were clearly the tougher team. They made the Catamounts work hard for every opportunity, and forced the ball into the paint on offense on several occasions.

UMBC has now won nine of their last 10 games, and have jumped over Stony Brook to take sole possession on second place in the America East.

The win is also the third in a row for the Retrievers over the Catamounts. It’s their first three-game win streak in the all-time series since the 2007-08 season. Vermont won all 23 contests between UMBC win streaks.

The Retrievers will now hit the road for two games in New York. Their first stop will be Saturday when they square off against UAlbany.

Tom Martin

Husband, father of three. Baltimore born and raised. UMBC '94. Follow me on Twitter -- @martymar1970

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