Last season, Santa Clara launched its Cable Car Classic with a thrilling one-point victory over UMBC when Kyle Bailey did not see a signal for a timeout and instead banked in the winning shot with 1.1 seconds left.
Last night, the Broncos found another way to hand the Retrievers a heartbreaking loss when center Jim Howell blocked Kareem Washington's game-winning attempt at the buzzer to secure a 55-54 decision before 2,213 at RAC Arena.
In its first game in Maryland, Santa Clara escaped while playing without the injured Bailey, an all-West Coast Conference guard and the team's leading scorer.
The defeat was the third straight for UMBC (3-3), denying coach Tom Sullivan his 250th career victory.
"It was a well-played, intense game," Sullivan said. "And the last one was a clear block. We got our second option, and it was just a good play."
The Retrievers didn't aid their cause at the free-throw line after a flurry of steals by Justin Wilson shot them into three different seven-point leads, the last at 43-36.
Santa Clara (5-3) responded with a 12-0 run sparked by Jorand Legge (16 points) and Ethan Rohde to regain control. During this period, the Retrievers missed five free throws.
"In effect, you give up an offensive possession by not getting the free throws," Sullivan said.
Down 54-48 with three minutes left, UMBC fought back on a half hook by Andrew Feeley and Washington's basket on the break after a Wilson rebound, cutting the deficit to two.
After a foul shot by Cord Anderson, freshman P.J. Hatcher banked in the basket that got UMBC within one with 11.4 seconds to go. The Broncos attempted to go long with the next inbounds pass, but the ball went off Anderson's hand.
UMBC failed on two more scoring chances. Wilson was foiled trying to drive before a fourth UMBC timeout in the final 40 seconds. Then came Howell's block.
"They outplayed us, or at least played us even, and we ended up with one more point," said Santa Clara coach Dick Davey, whose team visits Loyola tomorrow. "We were just lucky a lot of fouls weren't called on us. That's usually a tough thing on the road."
Said Sullivan: "These are the types of games that will mature the guys on this team. This is the type of schedule we want to play."
SANTA CLARA-C. Anderson 1-3 1-2 3, Legge 5-9 6-7 16, Howell 4-6 2-5 10, Kargbo 1-8 0-0 2, Rohde 3-9 0-0 7, Patrick 2-6 1-1 5, Rohe 2-7 1-2 6, B. Anderson 1-1 2-3 4, Borchart 0-0 0-0 0, Niesen 1-1 0-0 2, Tibbets 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-50 13-20 55. UMBC-Washington 6-17 0-0 16, Williams 3-7 0-3 6, Young 0-0 0-0 0, Gogerty 0-6 0-0 0, Wilson 4-12 5-7 13, Dinkins 1-1 0-0 2, Hatcher 5-11 0-0 11, Feeley 1-4 4-7 6. Totals 20-58 9-17 54. Half-UMBC, 26-23. 3-point goals-Santa Clara 2-14 (C. Anderson 0-2, Kargbo 0-3, Rohde 1-5, Patrick 0-1, Rohe 1-3), UMBC 5-16 (Washington 4-9, Gogerty 0-3, Wilson 0-2, Hatcher 1-2). Rebounds-Santa Clara 41 (Howell 8), UMBC 37 (Feeley 7). Assists-Santa Clara 12 (Rohe 5), UMBC 16 (Wilson, Gogerty 4). Total fouls-Santa Clara 19, UMBC 17. Fouled out-None. Technical fouls-None. A-2,213.