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Women’s basketball wins season opener against Columbia

The UMBC women’s basketball team began their 2016-2017 season with a win over the Columbia University Lions, 67-56 in Manhattan, N.Y. on Friday, Nov. 11. Senior Taylor McCarley led the team with 34 points, tying her career record set in 2014, while fellow senior Pandora Wilson also tallied 12 points and two rebounds.

Thanks to the pair effort, the Retrievers held a considerable advantage in field goal percentage (45.1 percent to Columbia’s 34.9 percent), while the Retrievers also maintained five fewer turnovers than Columbia.

The Retrievers’ expectations were large going into the new season, being polled as the second best team heading into the season.  Coach Phil Stern acknowledged the honor of being ranked so high prior to the game. 

“We embrace being picked high in the preseason poll because it means we did something right the previous year,” Stern said. “But, our players know that we have a lot of work to do and that this conference is very competitive.”

The hard work paid off as UMBC came out on top with a win in the Big Apple. The Lions didn’t go down without a fight however, as power-packed offenses for both teams led to a long, hard-fought match.

The Lions came out strong in the first quarter with help from junior Camille Zimmerman who put Columbia in the lead 5-2 by the eighth minute. UMBC quickly battled back with McCarley knocking back consecutive baskets to bring the Retrievers back on top 11-7. Freshman Te’yJah Oliver strengthened the attack sinking a jump-shot to conclude the quarter, giving them a 14-11 lead they would not look back on.

Stellar defensive play by UMBC held the Lions to only nine points in the second quarter, giving them a dominant 32-20 lead at the half. In addition, on the defensive effort, freshman Allison McGrath knocked back a three-pointer, collecting the first basket of her college career to help the Retrievers extend their lead in the first half.

The Lions shone in the third quarter as they cut their deficit to only five points. Solid defense by Columbia only let McCarley score one three-pointer for the Retrievers for the 10-minute quarter. Lion’s sophomore, Emily Surloff, entered the game and gave the Lions nine points off of three-pointers. She finished the night with 15 points, going 5-9 from the three-point line, contributing to Columbia’s 25 bench points.

The fourth quarter proved to be the difference for the Retrievers, with junior Lakiah Sims records two baskets and McCarley draining four free throws. UMBC went on a 13-0 run to close out the game and remain victorious.

This is the second straight season where the Retrievers have opened their season against Columbia. Last year, Columbia squeaked out a 70-68 overtime win over UMBC at RAC Arena to kick off the 2015-16 campaign. In the overall series, UMBC holds a 3-1 lead over Columbia.

On Nov. 11., the Retrievers next took down Gettysburg College 71-51 to extend their record to 2-0. Sims record an impressive stat line in the Retrievers second game, leading the team in points (18) and assists (four), while also tallying up two steals.

The Retrievers continue their homestand at the RAC Arena where they will first face-off against the University of Maryland Eastern Shore on Saturday, Nov. 19 on Alumni Day. Tip-off is at 1 p.m.