Women’s Basketball Drops Tough Battle at Penn, 69-63

Women’s Basketball Drops Tough Battle at Penn, 69-63

PHILADELPHIA – UMBC women's basketball battled all the way to the end, but was unable to overcome an early second-half run from Penn, despite receiving a four-trey performance for the second straight game from junior guard Liz McNaughton (Fairfax, Va./Fairfax), as the Retrievers fell short on the comeback in their first-ever trip to The Palestra, 69-63, in non-conference action on Monday evening.

McNaughton hit five-of-seven shots from the field, including four-of-five from long range, to finish as one of three double-digit scorers for the Retrievers. McNaughton recorded season-bests in rebounds (seven) and steals (four) to go with her 16 points, while junior guard Capree Garner (Silver Spring, Md./Springbrook) led the way with 19 points. Sophomore center Amanda Hagaman (Manasquan, N.J./Manasquan) chipped in 11 points and seven rebounds, while classmate Taylor McCarley (Bowie, Md./Academy of Holy Cross) dished out a career-best 11 assists in the absence of sophomore point guard Emily Russo (Woodbine, Md./Glenelg).

The Retrievers battled Penn to a four-point game at the break, but UMBC struggled to get its offense cooking in the opening 12 minutes of the second half, hitting just 22.2 percent (4-for-18) of its shots during a spurt that allowed the Quakers to open a 16-point advantage. UMBC shot 71.4 percent (10-for-14) for the remainder of the half to trim the deficit to four, 67-63, with 33 seconds to go, but the Retrievers ran out of time on their comeback to fall to 5-6 on the year.

Penn improved to 5-4 on the season behind a double-double performance from center Sydney Stipanovich. The sophomore knocked down 12 of her 15 attempts and pulled down five of the team's 20 offensive rebounds for 29 points and 14 boards.

The Retrievers withheld a pair of runs from the Quakers in the opening half. After an Amanda Hagaman (Manasquan, N.J./Manasquan) free throw that gave UMBC its only lead of the period, Penn used an 8-0 run that included a pair of old-fashioned three-point plays to take a 15-8 lead with 13:10 to go, but a pair of buckets from transfers Pandora Wilson (Gaithersburg, Md./Academy of Holy Cross) and Infiniti Alston (Baltimore, Md./Digital Harbor) helped to bring the Retrievers within three.

Penn relied on Stipanovich throughout the remainder of the half, as the sophomore scored 13 of the squad's final 15 points of the half to finish the opening 20 minutes with 17 points and 11 rebounds, including four offensive rebounds. The Retrievers, who started off the contest by hitting five of their first 17 shots, were able to chip away at their deficit, following a 7-0 run that gave the Quakers a double-digit advantage, by connecting on five of their final eight shots.

UMBC received a little bit of everything from McNaughton, who finished the opening half with 10 points, four steals and four rebounds in her first start of the season to earn America East Player of the Game honors. The Retrievers finished the half shooting 40 percent from the field, but surrendered 12 offensive rebounds that translated into eight points for the Quakers.

Penn scored 10 of the first 12 points out of the break, which proved to be the difference in the game, to extend their advantage back to double-digits, 40-28, with seven coming from Stipanovich. The Retrievers' shooting struggles led to just four points in the first eight minutes of the half, allowing the lead to reach its highest of the night at 46-30.

UMBC's comeback was started with a 5-0 run, including McNaughton's third trey of the day to cut the lead to single-digits, 51-43 with 6:48 to go. The Retrievers continued to chip away, hitting six of seven shots, including back-to-back connections from McCarley to Hagaman to cut the deficit to six, 60-54. UMBC's offense continued to roll down the stretch, pulling within four twice during the final minute of play, but the Retrievers could not get the defensive stops to complete the comeback.

The Retrievers outshot the Quakers across the board, but surrendered 15 second chance points on 20 offensive rebounds. Penn's senior forward Kara Bonenberger snagged eight rebounds, including five off the offensive glass, and finished with 10 of her 14 points in the second half.

On the Horizon for the Retrievers

-UMBC takes no rest as the Retrievers' conclude 2014 and their seven-game road swing at La Salle on Tuesday, Dec. 30. Tip is set for 2 p.m. at Tom Gola Arena.

Game Notes

-Sophomore guard Taylor McCarley was named the America East Player of the Week, the first conference honor for the Retrievers this season. McCarley becomes just the 10th player in UMBC women's basketball history to dish out more than 10 assists in a game.
-Coming off a career-best 18-point effort against UMES, junior guard Liz McNaughton logged her first start of the season. McNaughton is averaging 17.0 points per game over her last two games and hit eight of 12 shots from beyond the arc.
-The Retrievers were without sophomore point guard Emily Russo in the lineup for the first time in the past two seasons and marking just the second missed start of her career. Russo missed the game due to illness.
-Junior guard Capree Garner extended her double-digit scoring streak to 11 games to start the season.
-Amanda Hagaman hit double-digit points for the first time since the Towson game and for the first time on the road this season. She has five double-digit scoring games on the season.