The East Coast Conference had a gathering on the eve of its basketball tournament Friday night for the players of the member schools.
When the all-conference team and other award winners were recognized, nobody from the University of Maryland Baltimore County stood up.
"We didn't hear any of our names called," said Retrievers senior Derrick Reid. "We were kind of upset about that and brought that into the tournament. We feel we can play with these teams."
Inspired by the snub, the Retrievers made their entry into the ECC tourney a victorious one yesterday, leading virtually all the way to upset fourth-seeded Hofstra, 67-58, at the Towson Center.
"Basically, we have to go for this award [tournament title]," said UMBC coach Earl Hawkins.
Their next step will be this afternoon at 1 p.m. against top-seeded Towson State, which drew a first-round bye.
The Flying Dutchmen, who finished with a 14-14 record, rallied from 12 points behind on the scoring of guard Keith McMillan to seize their only lead, 54-53, with 7 minutes, 4 seconds to play.
But on the ensuing possession, McMillan caught an elbow in the mouth and was complaining to the officials when Bobby Mills, his man, broke free for a three-point play that regained the lead and the momentum for UMBC.
"It happened quite a few times," said McMillan (18 points). "By that time, he was knocking me over."
McMillan went 0-for-3 the rest of the game, and Reid broke a 58-58 tie with four straight free throws to cement the Retrievers' fifth straight triumph, equaling their longest such streak since they entered Division I in 1986-87.
Hofstra coach Butch van Breda Kolff was upset about the physical nature of the game and said "pretty soon you're going to see more of a game of football. Maybe you don't have to bounce it."
But UMBC (7-21) was called for more personal fouls, had a key player (Dana Harris) disqualified in the final three minutes and only matched Hofstra's seven offensive rebounds. The statistics didn't indicate an officiating mismatch.
The Retrievers, then 2-21 and ravaged by injuries and inconsistency, held a meeting in mid-February "to try to salvage some of our season," said Reid, who had 21 points and 10 rebounds yesterday.
"I think the key has been we've able to keep the same 10 or 11 players out there in practice and in games," said Hawkins. "I think it was very important for us to start well because it took Hofstra out of their game. They couldn't play that slow tempo."