HARRIONBURG, Va. – UMBC women's basketball's junior guard Janelle Saling (Lathrop,
Mo./Lathrop/Highland CC) scored nine of her 12 points during a five minute span in the second half, but it was not enough to overcome a 21 point second-half deficit, as Norfolk State held on to defeat the black and gold, 56-43, in the first game of the James Madison Invitational on Sunday afternoon at the Convocation Center.
Saling knocked down four-of-eight from beyond the arc for a season-best 12 points. Nine of Saling's points came during a 12-0 UMBC run to help the Retrievers cut their deficit to 10 points, 42-32, with 12:31 to go in the contest, but UMBC would knock down just two of its next 11 shots and turned the ball over six times during the span, to allow Norfolk State to extend its advantage back to 17 points and cruise to victory.
Freshman guard Taylor McCarley (Bowie, Md./Academy of Holy Cross) reached double-digit points for the fourth time in the last six games, registering 12 points, while sophomore center Bridget O'Donnell (Belle Mead, N.J./Montgomery) finished with eight points, six rebounds and three blocks. Freshman forward Sara Tarbert (Delta, Pa./Kennard-Dale) struggled from the floor, but led the team in rebounds (eight) and assists (six).
The Spartans pick up their first road win of the season to improve to 5-6, while the Retrievers fall to 1-10 after dropping their 10th consecutive contest.
The Retrievers opened up the matchup on an 8-0 run after knocking down three of its first four shots, but a timeout regrouped Norfolk State, as the Spartans responded with eight straight points to knot the contest with 13:41 to go. NSU would take its first lead of the game with 11:54 to go in the first and would not look back, as Rachel Gordon's go-ahead layup was the first of 14 unanswered points by the Spartans. Gordon scored seven of her 11 points in the opening period.
A layup from McCarley followed by a trey from sophomore Liz McNaughton (Fairfax, Va./Fairfax) brought UMBC within eight, 25-17, at the break. The Retrievers shot 28.0 percent from the floor in the opening half and were held without a field goal for an 8:32 span, while the Spartans shot 44 percent from the floor in the first stanza.
Norfolk State continued to add to its advantage early in the second half, opening up the stanza on a 13-4 run, but UMBC did not go down without a fight. The Retrievers came within 10 on three different occasions following Saling's sparked run, however, UMBC was unable to close the cap to single digits.
The black and gold turned the ball over 18 times in the game, but it was the Spartan's 11 offensive boards in the second half that proved to be crucial, as NSU was able to capitalize on its second chances, resulting in 16 second-half points.
Norfolk State was led by Gordon's double-double, on 11 points and 11 rebounds, while junior center Quineshia Leonard chipped in 11 points and six rebounds off the bench.
The Retrievers conclude the James Madison Invitational on Monday, Dec. 30 when it takes on Ohio at noon at the Convocation Center.
-UMBC drops its first-ever meeting against Norfolk State.
-The Retrievers fall for the 10th consecutive game for the first time since the 2003-04 season when it lost 17 games in a row.
-Taylor McCarley is averaging 11.0 points in her last six games, including four double-digit scoring games.
-Janelle Saling earned America East Player of the Game honors after registering the first double-digit scoring game of her career. Nine of her 12 points came during a five minute span in the second half.