LOWELL, Mass. – UMBC women's basketball had three players finish in double-digit points in its America East opener, including a season-high 12 points from freshman guard Laura Castaldo (West Nyack, N.Y./Clarkstown South), but the Retrievers shot 29.4 percent for the game to fall to UMass Lowell, 75-62, on Field Trip Day at the Tsongas Center on Thursday afternoon.
UMBC held a three-point advantage, 27-24, with 3:55 to go in the first half, but a 14-0 run from UMass Lowell to end the opening 20 minutes of play proved to be a deficit the Retrievers were unable to overcome. UMBC did not give up despite trailing by as many as 15 in the second half, scrapping back within six points, 66-60, with 2:05 to play, but UML knocked down 13-of-16 free throws in the second half to hang on for the victory. The Retrievers drop their conference opener and fall to 5-9 on the season, while UMass Lowell improves to 7-7 on the year and 1-1 in league play.
The Retrievers' America East Player of the Game Capree Garner (Silver Spring, Md./Springbrook) fell one rebound shy of her first double-double of the year, finishing with 19 points and nine rebounds, while junior guard Liz McNaughton (Fairfax, Va./Fairfax) knocked down four of the team's six threes for 16 points and six rebounds. Sophomore guard Taylor McCarley (Bowie, Md./Academy of Holy Cross) registered five-plus assists for the fifth time in the last six games, recording six assists, five points, four rebounds and one block on the afternoon.
UMass Lowell shot 37.3 percent for the game, but hit 10 three-pointers. The Retrievers turned the River Hawks over 23 times in the game, leading to 21 of UMBC's points, but UML held a 57-32 advantage on the glass, including 15 offensive rebounds. UMass Lowell had a pair of players finish with double-doubles, led by 26 points and 12 rebounds from senior guard Shannon Samuels. Junior forward Lindsey Doucette chipped in 13 points and 11 rebounds, while senior guard Jasmine McRoy added 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
After a slow start and some early struggles shooting, the Retrievers were able to use a 9-0 run on a trio of three-pointers from McNaughton to take a 19-12 lead with 8:01 to go in the opening half. UMass Lowell responded with back-to-back treys within 15 seconds of each other to pull within one, 19-18, with 7:23 remaining in the stanza.
UMBC took advantage of the River Hawks' early turnovers, turning 12 giveaways into 10 points, but UML did not turn the ball over in the final 6:20 of the half. The Retrievers finished the period knocking down five of its 12 three-point attempts, three coming from McNaughton and two from Castaldo, but UMass Lowell drilled seven treys (7-for-14) in the first 20 minutes of play and closed the opening half on a 14-0 run to take a 37-27 advantage into the break. Samuels and McRoy combined for 29 of the team's 37 points in the period.
The Retrievers were able to come within seven points, 39-32, early in the second half following a three from Garner with 18:20 to go, but a 10-3 run from the River Hawks extended the lead to 13, 47-34. After failing to go to the free throw line in the opening half, UMBC made it a point to get to the charity stripe in the second, and cut its deficit back down to seven with 9:45 to go, 54-47, following a pair of free throws from sophomore guard Emily Russo (Woodbine, Md./Glenelg), but the Retrievers went 7:45 without a field goal to find themselves in a 15-point hole, 64-49. The Dawgs turned the ball over just four times in the half, but hit 25 percent of their shots in the period, including 1-of-10 from long range.
UMBC was not done yet, picking up its play for an 11-2 run, five coming from Garner, to pull within six, 66-60, with 2:04 to go in the contest. The Retrievers held the River Hawks without a field goal over the final 4:34 of the contest, forcing UMass Lowell to win the game at the free throw line down the stretch. UML responded by making 11-of-14 from the charity stripe over the final 2:33 to hang on for the victory.
On the Horizon for the Retrievers
-UMBC continues America East action on the road at New Hampshire on Saturday, Jan. 10. The Retrievers open the conference season with four of five games on the road.
-UMass Lowell has won all three meetings in the all-time series against UMBC.
-Junior guard Liz McNaughton remained in the starting lineup despite the return of sophomore guard Emily Russo and reached double-digit points for the fourth time in the last five games. McNaughton has hit four threes in three of the games and has averaged 12.4 points per game during the span.
-Sophomore guard Taylor McCarley is averaging 6.3 assists per contest over the last six games.
-Junior guard Capree Garner reached double-digit points for the 13th time in 14 games with a team-high 19 points.