ORONO — From exquisite victory to inexplicable defeat in 53 hours.

The University of Maine men’s basketball team followed up Wednesday’s huge last-second win over Boston University with a crushing 56-55 loss to one-win UMBC Saturday at Alfond Arena. The loss snapped a six-game winning streak for the Black Bears, who went into the game in first place in America East.

Robbie Jackson’s layup with 1.4 seconds remaining was the game-winner. UMBC’s Adrian Satchell intercepted Troy Barnies’ three-quarter court pass intended for Sean McNally to clinch it.

“Everyone’s good in Division I basketball. That’s what we tell our guys all the time,” Maine coach Ted Woodward said. “Everyone belongs. Two years ago, the tables were turned and we went down and beat them at their place. We know these things can happen. Certainly, we didn’t take them lightly.”

“I wouldn’t say we took the game lightly. We just didn’t come with the same intensity we had the last couple of games,” McNally said. “That hurt us big time, especially in the first half.”

Maine shot 29 percent from the floor in the first half, 32 percent for the game.

“The defensive effort from our whole team was just phenomenal,” said an emotional Randy Monroe, UMBC’s coach. “You’ve got a young group of guys and you’re trying to get them to understand how it is to play on the collegiate level, and they did it today.”

Brian Neller and Chauncey Gilliam led UMBC (2-20, 1-8 in America East) with 12 points apiece. Gerald McLemore paced Maine (14-7, 6-2) with 16 points, while Barnies, of Auburn, tallied 13 points and nine rebounds.

The Black Bears came out flat off of Wednesday’s dramatic 56-54 win over conference preseason favorite BU and trailed most of the way. But momentum finally seemed to swing in their favor when McLemore hit back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game at 51-51 with just under four minutes remaining. Junior Bernal then forced a turnover to give Maine the ball and a chance to take the lead, but the Bears came out of their own time out and couldn’t get off a good shot, as Bernal had to rush a jumper that didn’t draw iron with the shot clock winding down.

Neller, who scored all of his points from beyond the arc, nailed a trey on the Retrievers’ next possession to make it 54-51. Barnies drilled a pair of free throws to make it a one-point game, then Bernal came up with another steal and laid it in as he was fouled to give the Bears a one-point lead with 1:12 to go. The margin stayed at one because Bernal missed the free throw, a bad omen for the Bears.

Maine had a chance to add to the lead again when Murphy Burnatowski blocked a shot and Barnies collected the rebound with 34 seconds left on the game clock and 28 on the shot clock. UMBC fouled backup point guard Andrew Rogers, who was 11-for-22 from the line on the season going into Saturday. Rogers missed both, and the Retrievers had the ball and a chance to win with 31 seconds to go.

On UMBC’s final possession, the Black Bears pestered guard Chris De La Rosa on the perimeter, but the defensive rotation left Jackson wide open along the baseline. McNally rushed down into the paint but couldn’t recover in time as Jackson took two dribbles to the hoop and put it in.

“There was a high ball screen and I was going to stop De La Rosa first, because I know (Jackson) wasn’t really going to be a throwback shooter,” McNally said. “I was out there hedging and I just got caught not looking to find my man and he happened to be open on the baseline. I guess… I could have gone up and fouled him but… I didn’t. It was just a bang-bang play.”

“I thought we played very, very good defense and were helping each other out,” Woodward said. “The ball ended up going to the one guy that ended up having to be open off our help.”

The start of the game was delayed 24 minutes because of a malfunctioning shot clock above the backboard at Maine’s end of the court, so it was fitting that Maine’s offense started malfunctioning early. Barnies scored the game’s opening basket and gave the Bears their only lead of the first half. After hitting 10 of 25 3-point tries against BU, the Black Bears hit just four of 14 in the first half.

“We had some shots inside that we didn’t take to the rim,” Woodward said. “We just kind of floated some things up there. I just thought we were a little bit out of sync at the offensive end and we just never seemed to get into a crisp flow.”

The keys to UMBC’s defense were Jackson, who muscled McNally, Maine’s second-leading scorer, inside, and De La Rosa, who harassed McLemore, the top scorer, on the perimeter.

“Obviously, Gerald McLemore was a major concern for us,” Monroe said.  “I thought Chris De La Rosa really stepped up and accepted a major challenge and just did a terrific job. I can’t tell you how proud I am of him. I can’t tell you how proud I am of the whole team.”

“We weren’t executing as well as we have the whole season,” Barnies said. “Their defense was keeping us in front off them and they were making us take contested shots.”

The Bears trailed by as much as six with 5:08 left in the half as UMBC spread the offense around liberally. Neller drilled a pair of 3’s off the bench for six points and each of the starting five chipped in four points. Maine went on a 10-4 run in the final five minutes to salvage a 26-26 tie for halftime. 

Maine took its second lead 1:09 into the second half when McNally fed Bernal for a three-point play, but UMBC tightened the clamps again defensively to slowly open up another six-point lead on a Neller 3 midway through the half. The Retrievers maintained the margin until Barnies sank a 3-pointer of his own that brought the sleepy crowd of 1,674 to life with 5:30 to play.


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