NEW YORK, N.Y. – UMBC women's basketball's Liz McNaughton (Fairfax, Va./Fairfax) scored 11 of her career-best 14 points in the opening half to keep the Retrievers within striking distance, but it was a monster second half triggered by guards Capree Garner (Silver Spring, Md./Springbrook) and Taylor McCarley (Bowie, Md./Academy of Holy Cross) that guided UMBC to a 76-66 victory against Columbia on Friday afternoon at Levien Gymnasium.
First-half turnovers and foul troubles helped Columbia to a 10-point advantage at the break, but UMBC's defense held the Lions to just one field goal in the opening nine minutes of the second half, allowing the Retrievers to eliminate their deficit with a 24-4 run behind 17 points from Garner and McCarley. UMBC held off Columbia's charges down the stretch, shooting 55.2 percent from the field in the period.
Garner finished the game with a career-best 28 points, her fourth 20-point performance of the year and seventh straight double-digit scoring game. McCarley scored nine of her 11 points in the second half, including a pair of three-point plays, while classmate Emily Russo (Woodbine, Md./Glenelg) chipped in 11 points and a game-high five assists. McNaughton pulled down six rebounds before fouling out with 5:14 to go.
The Retrievers snap a three-game skid with the victory and remain unbeaten in three all-time meetings against Columbia. UMBC improves to 4-3 on the year, while the Lions fall to 3-6.
The Retrievers came out with the early lead but the opening half featured five ties and five lead changes before UMBC's foul trouble began, allowing Columbia to go on a 9-0 run and taking a 26-18 advantage with 7:39 to go. McNaughton kept the game within striking distance for the Retrievers, knocking down three-of-five from beyond the arc in the half.
UMBC was called for 16 fouls in the period, allowing the Lions to go to the charity stripe 17 times, 11 of which they connected on. The Retrievers did not help themselves, adding 14 first-half turnovers, resulting in 14 points for the Lions. UMBC was held to one field goal in the final 7:18 of the half, leading to Columbia's largest lead of the afternoon at 12 points, 39-27, with 1:02 remaining in the half.
Russo started the Retrievers' second-half run, scoring the first five points out of the gate to trim the halftime deficit to five, 39-34, just 50 seconds in. The Retrievers continued the momentum, taking their first lead since 9:32 in the first half on a three-point play from McCarley, 41-39, with 15:57 to go in the game. UMBC knocked down four of its first eight attempts, while Columbia missed its first seven.
The 24-4 UMBC run put the Retrievers on top, 53-43, with 11:38 to go, but Columbia was not ready to go quietly. Freshman forward Camille Zimmerman looked to lead the charge for the comeback for Lions, scoring six of seven points for Columbia to pull within four, 59-55, but McCarley knocked down her only three of the contest to put a stop to the run, followed by McNaughton's fourth trey of the afternoon to extend the lead back to double-digits, 65-55, with 7:15 remaining.
Columbia had one more charge, pulling within one, 67-66, with 3:48 to go in the contest after a 9-0 run that was capped off by the Lions only three-pointer of the second half, but the Retrievers held their ground, holding the Lions scoreless for the remainder of the contest, while Russo and Garner scored the final nine points of the game.
The Lions shot just 21.4 percent from the field in the second half, including 8.3 percent from beyond the arc. Zimmerman finished with a double-double, tallying 17 points and 10 rebounds, while sophomore guard Tori Oliver adding 16 points and seven rebounds before fouling out. Senior forward Amara Mbionwu connected on 10-of-12 free throws en route to 12 points and eight rebounds. Freshman guard Alexa Giuliano hit four of Columbia's five treys in the game for 12 points.
The Retrievers held a 30-12 advantage in points in the paint and connected on 77.3 percent (17-22) of their free throws. UMBC took a season-high 16 threes, knocking down seven treys.
On the Horizon for the Retrievers
-The Retrievers continue their seven-game road swing on Tuesday, Dec. 9 when they travel to Bucknell for a 7 p.m. tip-off at Sojka Pavilion.
-UMBC's starting guards combined for 50 of team's 76 points.
-The teams combined for 50 fouls and 58 free throws.
-Columbia scored 14 of their 27 second-half points on the free throw line.
-Sophomore guard Emily Russo snapped her scoring skid, having combined for two points in the last two games, with her second double-digit scoring game of the season.