In the final possession for UMBC with the game tied at 62, UMBC guard Jairus Lyles prepared himself for this moment. He even said it himself. He knocked down a contested three pointer with half a second left in the game to give the Retrievers a 65-62 win over top-seeded Vermont on Sunday afternoon at Patrick Gym in Burlington, VT.
It's the second America East title for UMBC in school history. The odds of them winning this game were very small since they lost to the Catamounts 23 consecutive times in the past 10 seasons. UMBC advances to 24-10 and it's their first America East title since 2008. Lyles finished with 27 points and shot 10-23 from the field. He was second in the conference in scoring at 19.9 points and lead the America East in steals with 2.1.
“I waved off the last play from the bench, tried to get me some space and take the shot to end the game,” Lyles said.
The VCU transfer hit five triples out of seven attempts with one them tying the game up with 1:01 left giving him momentum to come up clutch in the final seconds.
In the two appearances Vermont and UMBC played this season, Vermont won both matchups big by 15 (71-56) and 28 (81-53 at UMBC).
Trae Bell-Haynes scored 18 points and had 5 assists for Vermont, who went 17-1 in the America East this year. Their only loss came to Hartford on Feb. 18 in a 69-68 battle. Bell-Haynes also won the America East Player of the Year last year. Bell-Haynes also lead Vermont in scoring this season with 14.8 points per game
UMBC's K.J. Maura had eights and Joe Sherburne had seven.
Vermont's Payton Henson contributed with 14 points and Ernie Duncan recorded 10 points. Vermont turned the ball over 13 times while UMBC only had four.
UMBC controlled the tempo in the first half with a 37-35 lead. Lyles had 15 points in the first but Vermont took over on the defensive end holding UMBC to two baskets on their first 15 attempts in the first 12 minutes.
UMBC will find out who they play in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday. They lost to Georgetown 66-47 in their only tournament appearance back in 2008.