BALTIMORE – UMBC women's basketball shot 62.5 percent from the field in the second half and outscored VCU 36-33 in the stanza, but the Retriever's first-half deficit proved to be too much as the Rams defeated the black and gold, 75-55, in Saturday afternoon's non-conference matchup at the RAC Arena.
VCU's senior forward Robyn Parks, the Co-Atlantic 10 Player of the Week, and freshman guard Isis Thorpe, the A-10 Rookie of the Week, sparked a pair of first-half runs for the Rams, which helped to open up a 23-point advantage at the break and proved to be the difference in the game. Thorpe and Parks combined for 48 points in the game, with 26 and 22 points, respectively.
The Retrievers spread out their scoring on the afternoon, with freshman forward Sara Tarbert (Delta, Pa./Kennard-Dale) finishing as the only UMBC player with double-digit points. while sophomore center Bridget O'Donnell (Belle Mead, N.J./Montgomery) and junior guard Janelle Saling (Lahtrop, Mo./Lathrop/Highland Community College) each added nine points. Tarbert added seven boards and three assists on the afternoon.
VCU (7-1) picks up its sixth consecutive victory and its second straight in a meeting against UMBC, while the young Retrievers fall to 1-8 after eight straight losses.
The Retrievers were able to get the reigning America East Rookie of the Week Tarbert involved early, as the freshman forward made a move inside the paint for a bucket and added a three from the corner to bring UMBC within two, 7-5. Classmate Emily Russo (Woodbine, Md./Glenelg) added a trey with 14:07 to go to bring UMBC within one at 9-8, but that sparked the Rams to a 10-0 run over a four minute span to give VCU some breathing room.
Saling, he America East Player of the Game, provided the Retrievers with a spark off the bench, coming in and knocking down a three, followed by a pair of hustle plays that resulted in an offensive rebound and defensive board. The junior guard's hard work brought UMBC's deficit back within single-digits, 26-17, with five minutes to go in the stanza, however, the Rams were able to build upon their advantage by going on a 16-2 run prior to the break, putting VCU out in front 42-19 at the half.
Parks and Thorpe provided a one-two punch for the Rams in the opening half, combining for 28 points in the period. Thorpe knocked down five of her seven treys in the contest in the first half, while Parks picked up five of her nine field goals.
The Rams added to their run out of the locker room, scoring the first five points of the second half, but the Retrievers continued to show fight, chipping away at the lead as a trey from Saling capped off a 17-9 UMBC run, to trim the deficit to 56-36, with 11:14 to go. Despite its high shooting percentage in the second half, the Retrievers turned the ball over 16 times in the second stanza, making it difficult for UMBC to get any closer. The black and gold finished with 24 turnovers in the contest, its third straight game with 20-plus turnovers.
UMBC returns to action on Tuesday, Dec. 10 when it travels to Bucknell for its first of four consecutive road games. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at Sojka Pavilion.
-After back-to-back victories against the Retrievers, VCU owns an 8-2 advantage in the all-time series.
-UMBC allowed a pair of 20-point scorers for the first time since Dec. 10, 2011 when Hampton had a pair of 20-point performers.
-The Retrievers are in the midst of an eight game losing streak, its longest since the 2003-04 season.
-VCU is the third team this season to pour in 10-or-more threes against the Retrievers this season.
-Sara Tarbert reached double-digit points for the seventh time this season, finishing with 12 points.
-Janelle Saling earned America East Player of the Game honors. Saling finished with season-bests in points (nine) and rebounds (three).
-Liz McNaughton finished with a career-best five assists.