UMBC beats Hartford 82-65 to win America East title and NCAA berth
CATONSVILLE, Md. (AP)— Confetti began falling in the final minute and the sellout crowd came to its feet and began roaring.
The noise grew as Maryland-Baltimore County players celebrated on the court Saturday while running out the final seconds of a victory that earned the school its first trip to the NCAA tournament.
Darryl Proctor led the way, scoring 23 points in UMBC’s 82-65 victory over Hartford in the America East tournament championship game.
UMBC (24-8) was playing in its first title game since starting Division I play in 1986. The Retrievers, who won the America East regular-season title, also set a school record for victories with the win.
“We have had our sights on this goal all season, and we weren’t going to let Hartford or any other team get in the way of that,” said UMBC guard Jay Greene, named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Proctor went 10-for-14 from the field and made several tough shots in traffic. Ray Barbosa added 14 points and Greene had 12 points, eight assists and six rebounds.
Brian Hodges missed about a month after spraining his ankle late in the season and hadn’t found his touch until Saturday. He went 5-for-10 from the field and finished with 13 points.
“We just came out pretty comfortable and loose,” Hodges said. “We knocked down our shots.”
The Retrievers took command early, going on a 20-point run to take a 28-6 lead with 9:20 left in the first half. UMBC made 14 of its first 18 shots from the field as Hartford never recovered from a dry spell of over 7 minutes.
UMBC bounced back from a poor shooting performance in last weekend’s semifinal victory over Vermont to make 68 percent from the field in the first half and 59 percent overall.
Hartford (18-16) made only nine of 25 from the field (36 percent) as UMBC took a 41-23 halftime lead.
The Retrievers also played tough defense. UMBC had problems on the boards in recent games, but held a 32-20 edge in rebounding, and added 11 steals.
“I thought our defense and our rebounding was the big difference,” UMBC coach Randy Monroe said. “It ignited our offense.”
Joe Zeglinski scored 17 points for Hartford, which also played in its first title game. Michael Turner added 16 and Jaret Von Rosenberg had 15, but the Hawks weren’t consistent on offense. After they cut UMBC’s lead to 61-51 with 9 minutes left, the Retrievers took command with a 10-0 run.
“Today was just not our day,” Hartford coach Dan Leibovitz said. “They were just clicking on all cylinders. It was as if we gave everything we had to cut it to 10, and didn’t have much left.”
UMBC has plenty left with the NCAA tournament coming up this week. The Retrievers spent several minutes walking through the emotional crowd and celebrating with fans and family after the game and reminding people they don’t want to be finished just yet.
“We’re not satisfied,” Greene said. “We know that we can compete with other teams around the country. We’re excited to have that opportunity.”