Brian Pearson had nine points and eight rebounds for Savannah State (6-9, 2-2 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference).
Pearson made a put-back layup to start a 10-2 run, spanning halftime, that put the Tigers up 35-24 in the opening seconds of the second half.
A 3-point play by Troyce Manassa gave Savannah State its biggest lead of the game, 44-30, with 11:44 left but Bakari Copeland made back-to-back layups and Devin Martin added another, then hit a 3 to pull UMES (4-15, 1-3) within four, 57-53, with three minutes to go.
Martin made five free throws as Savannah State hit 9 of 14 foul shots from there to seal it.
Dominique Elliott had 14 points with 11 rebounds and Copeland added 14 and nine for UMES.