CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The UMBC Retrievers did what 135 other 16th seeded teams in NCAA Tournament history couldn't do, and they made it look easy. In front of a raucous crowd at the Spectrum Center, the only team from Maryland to make the big dance this year defeated the top-seeded Virginia Cavaliers, 74-54, in arguably the greatest upset in NCAA history.
Senior guard Jairus Lyles scored 28 points, and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County pulled off the most shocking upset in NCAA Tournament history, defeating Virginia 74-54 on Friday night to become the first No. 16 seed ever to beat a No. 1 seed. Virginia entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed after going 31-2 this season, including 20-1 in ACC competition.
But the Cavaliers couldn't get anything generated on offense and the nation's top-ranked defense couldn't contain American East Conference champions. The 74 points were the most Virginia had allowed this year.
Lyles was the catalyst. He diced up Virginia's defense in the second half, getting the hole easily on six different occasions and making easy layups. He also knocked down a pair of 3-pointers as UMBC built a 16-point lead, finishing with 23 of his points in the second half and Joe Sherburne finished with 14 points.
The game was tied at halftime. But after the break, the Retrievers came out confident and motivated in the second half and built a double-digit lead that Virginia could never erase.
Sherburne scored on an and-one drive and then knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key after a behind-the-back pass from KJ Maura. After Virginia made a foul shot, the shifty 5-foot-8, 140-pound Maura drove the lane for uncontested layup.
A Tony Bennett timeout couldn't stop the bleeding, as Lyles hit two more 3's and Sherburne hit one to extend UMBC's lead to 14 with 14:57 left in the game. Lyles was fouled on a 3-point shot and suddenly the Retrievers led by 16.
A corner 3-pointer and a layups off a fastbreak by Arkel Lamer gave UMBC its biggest lead at 67-48. From there, the party was on as chants of "UMBC" rang through the arena.
It was yet another early exit for the Cavaliers in a season that seemed to hold so much promise.