The season is over, the final buzzer has sounded and the last drop of sweat has fallen on the court. It started out as another game day for the Retrievers as they prepared to take on the Hartford Hawks in the America East Quarterfinals. UMBC started off the game ferociously attacking the defense of the Hawks. The team shot 50 percent from the field through the first five minutes. UMBC converted on a trio of three-pointers in the game to keep pressure on Hartford. UMBC looked poised for a potential upset until sophmore-forward Janee’a Summers committed her second foul forcing her to sit early in the first quarter.
With Summers getting an extended rest, the team began to falter. The Retrievers started turning the ball over at an alarming rate. In the second quarter alone, UMBC had 13 turnovers and only managed to score eight points, including a four minute scoring drought. Junior-guards Te’yJah Oliver and Dominika Skrocka were the only two plays to score in the quarter. The team as a whole shot 3-13 from the field. The Hawks made every offensive opportunity matter as they were able to pour in 20 points, including a buzzer-beating three by the Hawks that allowed them to take the lead 31-21 into the half.
If the Retrievers wanted to keep their season alive, they would have to limit their turnovers and get back to what made them a 6-0 team. While it is easier said than done, the Retrievers have a knack for pulling off the impossible and making people into believers. From the start of the third quarter, it seemed as if the Retrievers had gotten themselves together and played with the same tenacity that gave them the lead early in the game. Offensive charges were key in getting the Retrievers back in this game. The team went on a 5-1 run that cut the deficit to six. Not only did they get the turnovers down, but the defense was ramped up holding Hartford to 23 percent shooting from the field.
Summers and Oliver, as well as junior-guard Tyler Moore, put the team on their backs and carried them to an 18 point quarter, each scoring six apiece. After back-to-back layups, UMBC was within five before the Hawks went back to extend the lead. By the end of the third quarter the Retrievers were down by six points. In the opening minutes of the fourth quarter the Hawks went on a 6-0 run that pushed their lead back up to double digits. The Retrievers fought with everything in them to get back in the game, but could not combat against the number two ranked team Hartford. Summers and Oliver finished the game with 13 points respectively.
Now that we have come to the end of the season, there are so many things left unanswered: Who will be the next head coach for the Retrievers? Will the administration be cleaning house and looking for new assistant coaches as well? Will there be major shakeups on the roster, who will stay and who is jumping ship? The team has to be proud of what they were able to accomplish in this rollercoaster of a season. Not only did they have a UMBC-best 6-0 start, but they were also able to make it to the America East tournament under the direction of two head coaches. This offseason will be one for the books as the coaching carousel is underway and nobody knows what the results will be.