After an impressive game against Gettysburg with a 71-56 victory, UMBC looked to start the season 2-0 as they faced off against Eastern University of Pennsylvania. The game got off to a sluggish start as both teams struggled to find a rhythm within their offense. With the score 5-3 Eastern got hit with a technical foul caused by their head coach that allowed the Retrievers to push the score to 6-3. Bodies were flying all over the floor as players were diving for loose balls in hopes of creating a spark for their team. UMBC put their bodies on the line as they had three charging calls go their way which seemed to get the team fired up. After the game, head coach Phil Stern talked about how those charges were important in this win.
“We drew four charges tonight. That’s really important for us, its something that we’re tracking and making sure our players are helping each other out with moving their feet and drawing charges,” Stern explained. The Retrievers would go on a 6-0 run before Eastern scored and leave the score 15-6 at the end of the first. The Retrievers opened up the second quarter on an 11-2 run to open the game up leading the Eagles 26-11. The Retrievers were on fire as they scored 25 points in with 21 of them coming from beyond the arc. Junior-guard Dominika Skrocka contributed three of those seven as she scored all nine of her points in the quarter.
UMBC’s defense smothered Eastern as they continued to trap the ball, making it hard for the opposition to get comfortable. The Retrievers forced back to back turnovers that lead to easy fast breaks, one that saw freshman-guard Paula Rubio drain a wide open three. UMBC outscored the Eagles 26-6 to give themselves a 40-15 lead at the half. Coach Stern applauded his players for their shooting performance, saying, “We did a good job making the extra pass tonight, we have multiple guys that can knock down three’s it’s a really important shot in 2018.” The Retrievers finished the half 9-16 from three and scored 19 points off of turnovers.
The second half went much like the first, with sloppy play from Eastern due to the Retrievers’ stifling defense. The Retrievers began to assert their dominance in the paint, grabbing rebound after rebound that lead to second chance points and a number of and-ones baskets. UMBC controlled the paint as freshman-forward Eryn Fisher went on a run of her own, scoring five straight points from two baskets, including one that drew a foul as she muscled her way inside for two. UMBC went on a 12-0 run in the third that further deflated any possibility of the Eagles getting back in the game. The bench played lights out for the Retrievers as they outscored the Eagles bench 51-19.
By the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Retrievers led by almost 40 points with their largest lead being 42. Freshman-guard Sariah Penese scored her first basket as a Retriever with a three-pointer from the corner. The bench cleared for the Retrievers as every player was able to see some time on the floor. UMBC would win handily as they trounced the Eastern Eagles 81-42. The Retrievers had 13 of their 14 players score with nine of them scoring six or more points. The team would finish with 44 rebounds, 19 assists and 13 made three-pointers. Stern has already put this game behind him in preparation for their two away games this weekend, adding, “It’s all about weight. We’re gonna need everybody to win these two games this weekend. We’ll get on the bus, have practice, have a nice dinner and try to win two games.” The lady Retrievers will be tested as they head to New Jersey for the Seton Hall Classic where they will face Kennesaw St. and University of Texas San Antonio.