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UMBC Women’s Basketball Edged by Vermont in Conference Quarterfinals, 47-43
Harris entered into the America East record books, finishing fifth all-time in single-season steals
ALBANY, N.Y. – Despite shooting its second-lowest percentage of the season (24.6 percent), the third-seeded UMBC women’s basketball tied Friday’s afternoon’s America East Championship Quarterfinal contest at 43 with 36 seconds to go, but Vermont’s Lauren Wheeler knocked down her only trey of the game to lead the sixth-seeded Catamounts to a 47-43 victory over the Retrievers at SEFCU Arena.
Senior guard Raven Harris (Virginia Beach, Va./Princess Anne/American) moved into fifth place in the conference’s single-season record book for steals, recording eight on the day and ending the season with 109. The all-conference second team selection added a game-high 13 points, while classmate Kristin Coles (Charles Town, W.Va./Notre Dame Academy/American) was one rebound shy of a double-double, scoring 12 points and pulling down nine boards.
UMBC, who had trailed since the 7:15 mark of the first half, eliminated an eight-point deficit with its defense and found itself tied at 34 all with 8:22 to go in the contest, following and a Harris jumper. With each team reaching the bonus early in the second half, it was the Retrievers who failed to capitalize, allowing the Catamounts to build its lead back up to six, 43-37, with less than five minutes to go.
The black and gold again inched closer as time was running down, connecting on three of its next six from the charity stripe, to bring the Retrievers within three at 43-40 with 1:53 on the clock. UMBC’s defense showed up again forcing the Catamounts into their 22nd turnover of the afternoon. Harris missed the layup on the drive which would have brought the Retrievers within one, but the guard was able to pick up her eighth steal of the game and was fouled on the layup attempt. Harris knocked down both free throws to make it a one-point ball game.
UMBC’s defense held tough, forcing another Vermont mistake, giving the Retrievers the ball back with 1:08 to go in the game. Although the black and gold were unable to convert coming out of a timeout, a missed layup from the Catamounts, allowed senior guard Brittany Crowell (Brandywine, Md./Gwynn Park/James Madison) to drive from bucket-to-bucket and draw the foul. Crowell hit one-of-two from the line to tie the game at 43 with 36 seconds remaining.
It took Vermont all of 10 seconds to find an open senior guard Lauren Wheeler, who knocked down the heartbreaking three. The Retrievers had an attempt for the tie, but finished the contest without a trey for the first time since Jan. 19, 2012 (against Binghamton). Sophomore forward Annie Wheeler hit one-of-two free throws with five seconds left to seal the victory.
Lauren Wheeler finished with a team-high 10 points for UVM, while senior forward Lauren Buschmann pulled down 11 rebounds and added eight points before fouling out. Vermont held a 53-43 advantage on the glass in the game, including 20 offensive rebounds.
The Retrievers’ shooting struggles started early, as the black and gold made three of its first 11 shots from the floor. Sophomore forward Ashley Lambert (Fredericksburg, Va./Riverbend) kept UMBC going, scoring seven of her 11 points in the opening 10 minutes.
After enduring a 4:15 scoring drought, UMBC scored six-straight points to take back the lead, 13-11, with 8:55 to go in the first half, however, the Retrievers’ offense went on to score just six more points in the half. Despite shooting 25 percent from the floor – including 0-for-2 from three – the Retrievers trailed just three points at the break, 21-19.
Vermont (10-20, 6-10 AE) moves on to the semifinals of the America East Championship and will play No. 2 Hartford on Sunday at 11:02 a.m., while UMBC concludes its season with a 10-20 overall record.
-UMBC moves to 6-9 in America East Tournament Play and 9-20 in Division I conference tournament play. The Catamounts hold a 13-9 lead in the all-times series, with each team now holding a postseason win over the other.
-Seniors Kristin Coles, Brittany Crowell, Raven Harris and Kim Browning all played in their final collegiate games.
-Raven Harris moved into fifth place in the America East record books for single-season steals (109), surpassing Julie Bradstreet (91-92, 107).
-Ashley Lambert notched double-digit points for the fourth-straight game, continuing the longest streak of her career.