Nobody knows the trouble UMBC's basketball team saw this season. Except for coach Earl Hawkins, that is, and his battle-scarred Retrievers. But that's all behind them.
The Retrievers recovered from a season-long siege of injuries to win one game and a lot of respect in the East Coast Conference tournament at the Towson Center over the weekend. They sprung a 67-58 upset of Hofstra Saturday, then pressed defending champion Towson State to the final seconds before succumbing, 78-76. They finished the season at 7-22. At one point, they were 2-21.
"It just shows the character of this ballclub," Hawkins said.
"We were looking forward to being on ESPN [for tomorrow night's ECC championship game]," senior Jim Frantz said after closing his career with a flurry. Frantz scored 44 points in the two tournament games, shooting 20-for-30.
UMBC's other tourney heroes included Derrick Reid (38 points, 22 rebounds), Brian Watkins (23 points) and point guard Dana Harris, whose 10 assists broke the school's Division I season record for assists with 144.
"UMBC showed great composure and poise for not having been [in the ECC tournament] before," said Towson coach Terry Truax, whose Tigers swept three games from the Retrievers this season. "We didn't beat the same team three times in a row. This is a different team. I don't know if we could beat this team three times."