UMBC women’s basketball played two crucial games this past week in their quest to secure a higher seed for the America East Conference tournament.
On Wednesday, the Retrievers travelled to Stony Brook University to take on the Seawolves. A few days later, at home, they took on the University of Vermont. UMBC fell on the road 71-41, but defeated Vermont 71-64 at home to break even on the week. While the Retrievers were not able to gain on their two and a half game deficit against New Hampshire, they also did not lose any ground.
The road loss to Stony Brook was characterized by offense struggles as the team’s leading scoring for the season, junior Capree Garner, was held to just five points. Sophomore Taylor McCarley was the only member of the team to record double digit points in the game. McCarley also led the team in rebounds with six, and was the only starter to record an assist.
If the current standings hold, the Retrievers would play Stony Brook in the first round of the America East Conference tournament. If so, they are going to have to find a way to beat them for the first time this season.
The home game against Vermont went a lot smoother for the Retrievers as they controlled the game from the beginning. They jumped out to an early lead, and after Vermont fought back, UMBC went on a strong run to end the half and never gave up the lead.
McCarley had another excellent game, recording a career high 31 points and shooting eight for 12 from the field. Pair that with another five rebounds and a team high six assists. Garner also had a solid performance with 10 points and nine rebounds. Team captains junior Liz McNaughton and sophomore Emily Russo played important roles in the win as well, scoring nine and eight points respectively. Russo also had six rebounds.
Although Vermont is tied for last place in the conference, this win was still crucial for the Retrievers as they won the game that they should win. Coach Phil Stern knows that in order to move up in the standings, UMBC has to take care of business at home.
“This is the part of the schedule we need to take advantage of. We need to hold our court at home,” Stern said.
UMBC’s remaining home games are against the University of Hartford and Binghamton University, and both are must wins for the Retrievers. With that being said, the biggest obstacles are the road games against the University at Albany and University of Maine. Both teams are at the top of the conference and defeated UMBC at the RAC.
“We played Albany very tough here at home. We tried to play up tempo against them to try and set up quick shots before they could set up their zone. We are looking to play well against them again and making sure the right people are getting the right shots,” Stern said.
If the Retrievers can upset Albany or Maine, they could find themselves in a much better position come tournament time.