Courtesy Vermont Sports Information
BURLINGTON – UMBC senior Jairus Lyles made a game-winning three-pointer in the final seconds and lifted the second-seeded Retrievers to a 65-62 win over top-seeded Vermont in the 2018 America East Championship Game. UMBC will receive the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
Vermont drops to 27-7 on the year while UMBC will take a 24-10 record into the Big Dance.
The America East All-Championship Team was composed of three Retrievers and two Catamounts. From UMBC, K.J. Maura, Daniel Akin were honored and Lyles was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. From UVM, Trae Bell-Haynes and Payton Henson joined the UMBC trio.
Bell-Haynes scored a team-high 18 points on 5-of-8 shooting. The senior collected six rebounds and dished out five assists. Henson followed with 14 points and three rebounds. Ernie Duncan added 10 points and made a pair from beyond the arc.
UMBC’s offense flowed through Lyles as the senior tallied a game-high 27 points. He shot 10-of-23 from the floor and made five three-pointers. K.J. Maura finished with eight points, two assists, and two steals.
The Catamounts jumped out to a quick 8-4 lead after Henson found his stroke early. The two rivals kept the score within a two-possession game for the most of the period but UVM started to heat up from long range. Henson and Bell-Haynes knocked down deep shots with five minutes left as the Cats built a 30-21 lead. UMBC countered with three-pointers of its own and closed the half on a 16-5 run. The Retrievers went into the locker room leading 37-35 after Lyles buried a three-pointer in front of Vermont’s bench in the closing seconds.
In the second half, Vermont shifted momentum back into its favor with a 12-2 run to begin the final frame. The Retrievers scored four quick points from a Arkel Lamar free throw and a long range shot from Lyles, but the Cats stretched the advantage back to nine points. Bell-Haynes found Everett Duncan open in the paint for an easy layup, then Duncan buried a long ball in front of UVM’s bench. UMBC came back and tied the game at 60-60 with under three minutes left to play after putting together a 14-5 run.
On the game’s final possession and the score deadlocked at 62-62, Lyles dribbled towards the middle of the floor and sank a 25-footer with left :00.5 on the clock.
Vermont will await the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) Selection Show on Sunday (March 11). The bracket will be unveiled at 8:30 p.m. on ESPNU. The opening round games will get underway on Tuesday (March 13) and Wednesday (March 14).