PHILADELPHIA – UMBC women's basketball's senior center Dana Lewis (Brodhead, Wis./Brodhead) knocked down a pair of free throws with 5.3 seconds remaining in the game to reset her career-high and bring the Retrievers within one point of La Salle, but the Explorers were able to hold off the comeback with a pair of free throws from freshman guard Amy Griffin with 4.3 seconds on the clock for the 65-62 victory in non-conference action on Tuesday afternoon at Tom Gola Arena.
Lewis finished with 14 points on six-of-eight shooting and pulled down a team-best eight rebounds. Junior guard Capree Garner (Silver Spring, Md./Springbrook) led the way with a game-high 22 points, her fifth 20-point performance of the season, and added three steals, while sophomore guard Taylor McCarley (Bowie, Md./Academy of Holy Cross) chipped in 13 points and four rebounds.
The Retrievers trailed by just one at the break, 26-25, but similar to Monday, UMBC surrendered an early second-half run. The Dawgs shot 57.7 percent from the field in the second period, but allowed La Salle to maintain control with 16 points off of turnovers in the stanza. The Retrievers scrapped back from an 11-point deficit, holding the Explorers to two field goals in the final 8:18 of the game, to come within two, 60-58, with 32 seconds remaining. A missed free throw from sophomore forward Micahya Owens with seven seconds to go left the window open for the Retrievers to come within one on Lewis' free throws, but Griffins' free throws with four seconds on the clock sealed the victory for the Explorers as McCarley's last second heave was off the mark.
UMBC concludes its seven-game road stretch with a 2-5 record, falling to 5-7 on the season, while La Salle improved to 9-5 on the year behind 15 points and seven rebounds from red-shirt senior guard Alicia Cropper and a team-high 17 points from Owens.
The Retrievers' spotted the Explorers the first six points of the game before Garner got UMBC going with back-to-back buckets. A trey from McCarley, coupled with UMBC holding La Salle scoreless for four minutes, helped the Retrievers' to their first lead of the afternoon at 13-12 with 12:29 to go in the half.
Garner and Crooper battled to keep their teams on top throughout the opening period, which featured four ties and four lead changes, but it was red-shirt junior forward Ebony Wells that distanced the Explorers with six straight points in less than a minute span to give La Salle a 24-19 lead. Garner continued to propel the Retrievers' offense, scoring 10 of the last 12 points of the half, while the defense held La Salle to just one bucket over in the final 6:20 of the period, but the bucket came in the form of a last second layup from sophomore guard Jasmine Alston to give the Explorers a one-point advantage at the break, 26-25.
The Retrievers held La Salle to 24.2 percent shooting from the field in the opening half, but UMBC shot 37.5 percent from the field and hit six of nine free throw attempts. Garner accounted for 17 of the team's 25 points at the break.
UMBC looked sluggish out of the break, allowing La Salle to open up a nine-point advantage with the first eight points of the second half. The Explorers capitalized on their offensive rebounds and on the Retrievers' turnovers throughout the half to maintain their advantage, converting 10 giveaways and 11 offensive boards into 25 points in the period. The Retrievers held La Salle to 38.2 percent shooting from the field in the final 20 minutes of play, but the Explorers hit five-of-seven from beyond the arc in the half. Lewis and McCarley combined for 22 of their 27 points in the second half to help the Retrievers' efforts.
On the Horizon for the Retrievers
-UMBC returns home to start the New Year, hosting local-rival Morgan State on Jan. 1 at 7 p.m. inside the RAC Arena. The Retrievers open America East action on Jan. 8 at UMass Lowell.
-Junior guard Capree Garner increased her double-digit scoring streak to 12 games.
-Senior center Dana Lewis pulled down a season-best eight rebounds.
-The Retrievers were without starting point guard Emily Russo for the second straight game, due to illness.
-Freshman guard Laura Castaldo corralled a season-best seven rebounds.