ALBANY, N.Y. -- Senior guard Brian Neller hit two critical 3-pointers in the final four minutes, leading sixth-seeded Maryland-Baltimore County to a surprising 69-62 victory over third-seeded Hartford in the opening round of the America East Conference tournament Saturday at SEFCU Arena.
Senior guard Ryan Cook led all scorers with 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting for Maryland-Baltimore County (8-22), which will play second-seeded Vermont in Sunday's semifinals.
Neller scored 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including 6-of-12 from 3-point range.
Sophomore forwards Nate Sikma and Mark Nwakamma combined for 30 points and 10 rebounds for Hartford (17-13, 10-6), which had won three games in a row and six of eight, including a 68-56 victory over the Retrievers on Feb. 28. Sikma scored 17 points and Nwakamma had 13.
Maryland-Baltimore County shot 54.5 percent from the field and made 9-of-17 from 3-point range. The Hawks shot only 39.2 percent and made 7-of-28 from beyond the arc.
Hartford cut its deficit to one with 7:21 to play and two with 1:28 remaining, but each time Neller delivered 3-point baskets to extend the Retrievers' lead.