Senior guard Skip Saunders became the 10th UMBC men's basketball player to score 1,000 points on his breakaway layup with 9:59 remaining in the first quarter of last night's matchup with Xavier University.
Unfortunately for the Retrievers, Saunders' milestone came on a night that belonged to the Musketeers.
Xavier, which has won five straight since losing its road opener to Duke, got to start free lancing early, as it opened up a 20-point lead midway through the second half and coasted to a 92-66 victory before 1,761 at UMBC Field House.
"We gave 100 percent out there, but they're just so deep and so big that it's tough for a team like us to compete with a team like that," said Saunders, who led the Retrievers (1-5) with 20 points. "We go into each game thinking we can win and we put in a lot time preparing for these guys, but this is a good team."
The same cannot be said for UMBC.
The Retrievers, who enjoyed 17 days off since losing to Princeton in the consolation game of the Otis Spunkmeyer Tournament, appeared a bit too relaxed and somewhat out of sync in the early going.
Xavier missed its first six shots, and didn't get its first field goal until Tyrice Walker's dunk with 16:12 left in the half. But the Retrievers failed to take advantage, managing only three points of their own.
Then the Musketeers went on a 10-0 run and took a 15-5 lead with 12:36 left in the first half.
Saunders cut the lead to five on a driving jumper in the lane, but the Musketeers answered with four straight field goals and a foul shot to give them a 30-16 advantage. From there, the visitors completed a 19-6 run and built a 44-28 halftime lead.
"We had hopes of upsetting this team, but we had to play well in all facets of our game. I think our problem was handling the pressure early on," said UMBC coach Earl Hawkins. "The pressure didn't surprise us, we just didn't handle it right."
Walker reached his 15 points per game average before halftime, but had to share game-high scoring honors with 6-9 center Brian Grant as each finished with 21.
Xavier opened the second half with a pair of turnovers and UMBC pulled to within 10 on a basket by Damon Tweedy. Just when the Retrievers thought they were back in it, the Musketeers reeled off 13 points.
During that stretch that saw the lead expand to 60-38, UMBC failed to put up a shot on six straight possessions.
Sonique Nixon, the only other Retriever to reach double figures in the scoring column, picked up the bulk of his 16 points in the waning minutes of the contest.
"Every win is a win and I'm pleased with the victory and the way we played tonight," said Xavier coach Pete Gillen. "Now, we have to keep going, keep improving and get ready for our next opponent [East Tennessee State]."