All-Conference guard Joe Zeglinski scored 7 of his 16 points during an 11-2 burst late in the second half, leading second-seeded Hartford to a 59-52 win over Boston University yesterday in Vestal, N.Y., that earned the Hawks their first trip to the America East title game.
Hartford (18-15), which had lost its nine previous semifinal games, will visit No. 1 seed Maryland-Baltimore County Saturday. UMBC defeated Vermont in the other semifinal.
Hartford and UMBC split a pair of games during the regular season, each winning by a point on its home floor.
Sixth-seeded BU (14-17) had drawn within 2 (31-29) with 14:59 remaining in the game when Zeglinski hit two straight field goals that triggered the 11-2 run and the Hawks were never threatened again. Hartford beat BU for the second time in three games this season.
Corey Lowe led BU with 16 points, Matt Wolff had 12 points and eight rebounds, and Carlos Strong came off the bench to add 11 points.
UMBC 73, Vermont 64 - Cavell Johnson scored 6 points during a late free throw-fueled 12-0 rally to help the Retrievers beat the fourth-seeded Catamounts.
UMBC (23-8) advanced to its first final in five years in the league. As the league's regular-season champ, UMBC already has an automatic NIT bid.
Vermont (16-15) led, 60-55, with 4:36 left when Johnson started the run with the only basket of the spurt. The Retrievers then went 10 for 12 from the line to take a 7-point lead with 1:14 remaining.
UMBC went 26 for 31 from the line in the second half, led by Ray Barbosa, who hit all 15 of his free throw attempts.
"I thought our guys did a good job trying to execute the game plan and I thought we controlled the tempo, but unfortunately when you play a really good team, turnovers hurt you," said Vermont coach Mike Lonergan. "We had a 5-point lead for a while in the second half, but we just didn't make shots."
Mike Trimboli led Vermont with 21 points and five rebounds. America East Player of the Year Marqus Blakely was held to 9 points - including his only 3-pointer of the season and the second of his two-year career - but had 14 rebounds and four blocks. Colin McIntosh added 11 points and Evan Fjeld contributed 10.
Barbosa scored 21 of his 29 points in the second half to lead all scorers. Darryl Proctor added 17 points and Johnson 12 points and eight rebounds.