Improved Retrievers are making believers

UMBC 3-0 in America East

Vermont coach impressed

UMBC men 78 Vermont 60

January 10, 2008|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Sun reporter

UMBC delivered another statement to the America East Conference last night, taking another whack at the fifth-place preseason prediction of league coaches.

It was some statement. It was some whack.

The Retrievers shot 66.7 percent in the second half and outworked Vermont, 78-60, for their eighth straight win at the RAC Arena.

"We don't allow someone's opinion of us to become our reality," UMBC coach Randy Monroe said of the preseason slight. "It's our motivation."

The Retrievers (11-5, 3-0) made the Catamounts pay in a big way. Vermont (6-9, 1-2) had won nine of the previous 10 meetings with UMBC, including a three-game sweep last season. But UMBC led this one wire-to-wire.

"We're in first place for a reason," said Brian Hodges, who scored 15 of his game-high 21 points in the second half, shooting 6-for-8 against Vermont's Kyle Cieplicki.

The reason is balance and a big-time work ethic. Point guard Jay Greene dished for seven of the team's 16 assists. Darryl Proctor scored 12 points and had 11 defensive rebounds. Ray Barbosa contributed 16 points, hitting three of four three-pointers. Cavell Johnson had 12 rebounds and nine points. And UMBC committed only nine turnovers.

Vermont was the regular-season champion in the America East last season but lost to Albany in the conference tournament final. The Catamounts were picked to finish third this season.

Obviously, some corrections are in order.

But maybe the conference coaches weren't counting on such a major impact by UMBC's three transfers - Johnson, Barbosa and Proctor.

"Their chemistry seems very good," Vermont coach Mike Lonergan said.

"They're not out there looking for their own points. They're looking to win. ... They're in the driver's seat. I really like their team."

The Retrievers led by as many as 13 points in the first half, then steadily built on that lead. In the span of 2:19 of the second half, they used an 11-1 run to push their lead from 14 to 24. Barbosa and Hodges hit back-to-back baskets, and Johnson finished it off with a layup.

By then, Lonergan had seen enough.

"The big thing was, they played a lot harder than us," he said. "Our defense was atrocious."

In contrast, UMBC's man-to-man defense was efficient. Vermont shot just 32.3 percent in the first half and 37.9 percent for the game.

VERMONT-Blakely 6-16 5-10 17, Shields 0-1 0-0 0, Vier 2-5 0-0 5, Trimboli 5-14 2-2 12, Cieplicki 2-7 0-0 5, Accaoui 0-2 2-2 2, Powlovich 2-4 0-0 4, Fjeld 1-4 3-4 5, Dean 0-0 0-0 0, McIntosh 3-4 0-0 8, Robbins 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 22-58 12-18 60. UMBC-Johnson 2-9 5-8 9, Proctor 6-9 0-0 12, Greene 3-5 0-0 7, Hodges 8-14 4-5 21, Barbosa 6-11 1-2 16, Adkins 0-0 0-0 0, McKnight 0-0 0-0 0, Spadafora 4-7 0-0 9, Fry 2-3 0-0 4, Massey 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-58 10-15 78. Half-UMBC 32-24. 3-point goals-Vermont 4-15 (McIntosh 2-2, Vier 1-2, Cieplicki 1-5, Accaoui 0-2, Trimboli 0-4); UMBC 6-13 (Barbosa 3-4, Greene 1-2, Spadafora 1-2, Hodges 1-4, Johnson 0-1). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-Vermont 33 (Blakely 7); UMBC 37 (Johnson 12). Assists-Vermont 10 (Cieplicki 3), UMBC 16 (Greene 7). Total fouls-Vermont 11, UMBC 15. A-2,207.

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