BALTIMORE – UMBC women's basketball's junior guard Capree Garner (Silver Spring, Md./Springbrook) led the Retrievers to a strong performance with 28 points and seven rebounds, but a 7-0 second-half run helped Albany to defeat the Retrievers, 72-62, during UMBC's 10th annual Midday Madness in America East action on Thursday afternoon at the RAC Arena.
The Retrievers hung with the defending league champions throughout a majority of the game, which featured eight ties and 10 lead changes, but a 7-0 run from Albany with 8:33 to go in the contest, proved to be a tough hole for UMBC to climb out of. The Great Danes shot 45.2 percent (14-31) in the second half, while the Retrievers shot 35.5 percent (11-31), including 1-of-10 from beyond the arc.
Garner hit 12 of her 19 shots on the afternoon, including three-of-six from three-point land. Sophomore Taylor McCarley (Bowie, Md./Academy of Holy Cross) chipped in 11 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals, while junior guard Liz McNaughton (Fairfax, Va./Fairfax) added nine points and three rebounds.
The conference's leading scorer Shereesha Richards finished with a game-high 29 points and 14 rebounds to pace three double-digit scorers for Albany. Sophomore guard Zakiya Saunders added 19 points and five rebounds, while sophomore guard Imani Tate tallied 11 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Albany remains unbeaten in league play with the victory, improving to 6-0 in conference and 13-6 overall, while the Retrievers drop to 6-13 on the season and 1-5 in America East play.
UMBC started hot out of the gate, knocking down eight of its first 11 shots (72.7 percent), including three-of-six from beyond the arc to take a 21-14 advantage with 11:25 to go in the opening half. Garner accounted for 12 of the Retrievers' points, going a perfect five-for-five from the floor, while Richards registered 12 of Albany's 14 points.
The Great Danes connected on five of their next six shots to take back the lead with 8:32 to go in the first, 24-23, but Garner had the response for the Retrievers with her third trey of the day. Albany tied it all up at 26 apiece less than a minute later, but again UMBC had a reply as sophomore forward Pandora Wilson (Gaithersburg, Md./Academy of Holy Cross) put home a floater and McNaughton added a three from the corner to give UMBC back a five-point cushion with 5:53 before the half.
UMBC shot 56 percent from the field for the opening half, including 5-of-11 from long range, but Albany, who shot 51.6 percent for the period, scored 24 points in the paint to take a one-point edge into the break, 38-37. The Great Danes converted their six offensive rebounds and UMBC's eight turnovers into 15 points. The first half saw stellar performances from the league's top-two scorers, with Garner finishing the half with 17 points for the Retrievers on seven-of-eight shooting and Richards responding with 21 points and six rebounds, five of which were on the offensive end.
The two teams continued to battle early into the second half, with neither team taking more than a two-point advantage in the opening 10 minutes of the second half. Both team's shooting cooled down in the second half, with each squad making five of their first 14 shots.
A UMBC miss and turnover was all the Great Danes needed for their 7-0 run, which gave Albany its largest lead of the afternoon to that point at 57-50 with 8:33 remaining. The Retrievers' struggled to hit from beyond the arc in the second half, connecting on one of their first nine shots from long range in the stanza.
UMBC would come back to within five, but Albany responded with another 11-2 run down the stretch to hang on for the victory.
The Great Danes tallied 40 of their points in the paint and combined for 32 points off of offensive rebounds and UMBC turnovers.
On the Horizon for the Retrievers
-UMBC continues home action on Sunday, Jan. 25 when the Retrievers host Maine at 1 p.m. at the RAC Arena.
-Midday Madness is an annual event at UMBC that welcomes local elementary and middle school students to campus. Midday Madness was not attended by all 18 schools, due to a two-hour delay for all Baltimore County schools.
-Capree Garner tallied her seventh 20-point performance of the season and matched a career-high with her 28 points.
-Liz McNaughton's 13 attempted three-pointers were the most for her career. The Retrievers finished with 21 three-point attempts in the game (6-for-21).