BALTIMORE – UMBC women's basketball's freshman forward Sara Tarbert (Delta, Pa./Kennard-Dale) scored 23 points as the Retrievers gave Albany all it could handle, but a 14-2 second-half run lifted the Great Danes past the black and gold, 56-46, in Tuesday night's America East matchup at the RAC Arena.
UMBC battled back from a nine-point first half deficit and took a 30-29 lead in the opening minutes of the second half. The Retrievers turned the league's top-scoring offense over nine times in the second period, but junior center Megan Craig scored 17 of her team-best 23 points in the second half, including six throughout the Great Danes decisive run. Craig finished with her fifth double-double of the season, by adding 10 rebounds, while sophomore guard Shereesha Richards tabbed her 13th double-double of the year, with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
The Retrievers shot 53.8 percent from the floor in the contest and assisted 18 of 21 baskets. Tarbert knocked down 10-of-11 shots, including a perfect three-for-three from beyond the arc. Sophomore center Bridget O'Donnell (Belle Mead, N.J./Montgomery) chipped in eight points and two blocks, to move into a tie for third on UMBC's single-season block list (43). Freshman forward Amanda Hagaman (Manasquan, N.J./Manasquan) provided a spark off the bench, draining four-of-five shots for eight points and snagging a season-best three steals.
Albany (22-3, 12-0 AEC) extends its America East unbeaten streak to 35 regular-season games, while UMBC falls to 2-22 overall and 1-11 in the league.
The two teams traded baskets in the early going, but Albany took advantage of UMBC turning the ball over on six straight possessions by going on a 9-0 run behind Richards and Craig. The Retrievers were able to trim the deficit back to three, 17-14, with 7:39 to go in the opening half following a trey from Tarbert and jumper from O'Donnell, however, the Great Danes quickly extended their advantage back to nine, 25-16, after UMBC committed three more turnovers.
UMBC's defense held Albany to just one field goal over the final 3:53 of the period to cut its deficit to four points, 27-23, at the break. UMBC shot 52.6 percent from the floor in the opening half, but turned the ball over 14 times in the period, translating into 14 points for the Great Danes. Nine of Albany's 17 rebounds in the half were off the offensive glass, however, UAlbany was only able to pour in six second chance points. Tarbert finished the half by knocking down all five of her shots for 13 of the Retrievers' 23 points, while Richards knocked down six-of-seven shots for 13 of her 18 points in the game.
A three-point play 3:32 into the second half from freshman guard Emily Russo (Woodbine, Md./Glenelg) gave the Retrievers their first lead since the 15:37 mark of the first half at 30-29. UMBC matched Albany until O'Donnell was sent to the bench with her third foul, which opened the door for Craig and the Great Danes. Eleven of the 14 points during the spurt came with O'Donnell on the bench, including all six of Craig's points.
Albany held a 36-20 advantage on the boards, including 16 offensive rebounds, however, the Great Danes were only able to convert into nine second chance points. The Retrievers turned the ball over 22 in the game, but forced UAlbany into 19 turnovers.
UMBC returns to action on Saturday, Feb. 15 when it hosts Vermont for a 1 p.m. matchup inside the RAC Arena.
-Albany extends its lead in the all-time series to 14-9, winning seven straight contests versus the Retrievers.
-UMBC shot above 50 percent from the floor for the second time this season.
-Sara Tarbert extended her double-digit scoring streak to eight games, with three 20-point efforts.