Making their second NCAA Tournament appearance, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) Retrievers made sports history by becoming the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The America East champions pulled off a stunning 74-54 upset of No. 1 University of Virginia Cavaliers in Charlotte, North Carolina capitalizing on the fact they had nothing to lose but everything to win.
Tied with 21 points at the half, UMBC dove out to a double-digit lead and maintained their stance throughout the second half by keeping the tight pressure on and knocking down anything in their zone.
The team’s hero in the buzzer-beater American East title game, senior Jairus Lyles finished with 28 points, almost scoring what Cavaliers’ sophomores Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy had combined. Virginia couldn’t get anything generated on offense and as the nation’s top ranked defense, they couldn’t contain UMBC.
Virginia’s defense in the second half was being plowed down by Lyles who made shooting baskets look easy in six different occasions while adding easy layups to his personal statistics. Knocking down a pair of 3-pointers, the Retrievers built a 16 point lead.
While Lyle finished with 23 of his points in the second half, junior Joe Sherburn added to that with 14 points.
This isn’t the first time Virginia has struggled as a No. 1 seed.
As timeouts by the Cavaliers couldn’t stop the bleeding and damage the Retrievers offense and defense created, it became yet another early exit for Virginia in a season that seemed to hold so much promise.
UMBC will face No. 9 Kansas State on Sunday, March 18th 7:45PM.
By Cierra Loomis