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Giantkillers UMBC bow out of NCAA tournament

Xavier Sneed of the Kansas State Wildcats dunks against the UMBC Retrievers during the second round of the 2018 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Spectrum Center on Sunday in Charlotte, North Carolina. AFP
Xavier Sneed of the Kansas State Wildcats dunks against the UMBC Retrievers during the second round of the 2018 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Spectrum Center on Sunday in Charlotte, North Carolina. AFP

Giantkillers UMBC bow out of NCAA tournament

The University of Maryland-Baltimore County’s whirlwind ride in America’s hugely popular NCAA collegiate basketball tournament ended on Sunday with a 50-43 loss to Kansas State.

Two days after UMBC authored a historic upset of overall top-seed Virginia – the first 16th seed ever to knock off a No1 – the Retrievers were on their way home.

Kansas State’s Wildcats took full advantage of UMBC’s shooting struggles to reach the “Sweet 16” for the first time since 2010 – when they made it all the way to the “Elite Eight.”

“Retriever Fever” had gripped US hoops fans after UMBC toppled Virginia 74-54 on Friday – an upset that busted bracket predictions across the nation and catapulted the unheralded team to prominence.

The UMBC website crashed during the game thanks to the number of people seeking information on the Retrievers and the 13,000-student campus at Catonsville, Maryland, located about a 10-minute drive from downtown Baltimore.

The UMBC Athletics Twitter account jumped from 5,000 to 43,000 followers thanks to its funny and passionate remarks about naysayers and non-believers.

By Sunday night, the Twitter feed had 109,000 followers, and Stephen Curry, superstar of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, teamed with apparel manufacturer Under Armour to supply the squad with limited-release edition Curry V shoes for the game against Kansas State.

Even without a fairy tale ending, UMBC’s story captivated the US sports world.

“Congratulations on a terrific season @UMBCAthletics,” the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens tweeted on their official Twitter feed. “You made all of Baltimore proud this week.”

“Well, it was fun y’all,” UMBC Athletics tweeted. “KState may have won (50-43), but we hope to have won your hearts.”

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