Suffocating defense and 20 assists propelled the Tribe to a 28-point victory Saturday, downing Maryland–Baltimore County 76-48 at Kaplan Arena.
The Retrievers started hot, hitting their first two shots and forcing a Tribe turnover to take a 5-0 lead. The College opened the game in a full-court press, and a steal and layup from senior forward Victoria Reynolds combined with a layup from sophomore guard Eva Hodgson made it 7-4 midway through the opening quarter. A Hodgson three from the right corner tied it, and a hook shot from junior center Gabby Rogers gave the Tribe its first lead. Hodgson caught fire after that, knocking down two more threes to put the College up by four and give her 11 points in the quarter. The teams traded baskets to make it 22-18 Tribe to begin the second.
The press forced a ten-second violation early in the second quarter, and layups from Rogers and freshman guard Bre Bellamy put the College up 28-18 halfway through the quarter. The Tribe amped up the defensive pressure as well, shutting out the Retrievers for nearly seven minutes as Rogers recorded the team’s fifth blocked shot. Hodgson kept her foot on the gas as well, draining her fourth three–pointer of the game right before halftime to put the College up 39-25. The Tribe held the Retrievers to 21 percent shooting in the second quarter, and Hodgson ended the half with 16 on 6-of-8 shooting.
Head coach Ed Swanson noted an increased energy near the beginning of the second quarter that sparked the team’s stingy defense in the period.
“I thought we just had more sense of urgency,” Swanson said of the shift in mentality. “That’s something we have to practice, we got to be able to get out of the gate a little bit faster, those first five minutes; the game against Richmond and tonight it took us a while to get going.”
A layup from Reynolds off a dime from Hodgson re-asserted the upper hand in the third quarter and a putback layup from junior guard Nyla Pollard extended the lead to 43-27. A Bellamy jumper and Rogers layup made it 47-28, and the defense forced the twelfth Retriever turnover of the game. Not letting up, the press turned another Retriever giveaway into a layup and a 55-31 advantage and a Reynolds and-one made it 60-36 going into the final quarter.
Through three quarters, the Tribe defense forced 15 Retriever turnovers and converted them into seventeen points. It also recorded 16 assists to only five from the Retrievers.
Junior guard Harper Birdsong knocked down a three to open the fourth, and senior guard Ashley Taylor downed a jumper to make it 65-38 with under six minutes to play. The teams traded baskets for the final minutes and a three from sophomore forward Emma Krause put an exclamation point on the team’s fourth victory of the season, 76-48.
After the game Hodgson noted that the transition from freshman to sophomore has made a difference regarding her feel of the game.
“It definitely has,” Hodgson said of the difference a year has made. “I just feel a lot more comfortable out on the court, which has been really cool, and fun too.”
Bellamy’s 12 points and four rebounds were a valuable supplement on a night where no player cracked 20 points but three made it to double figures. Hodgson noted after the game the ease with which Bellamy and freshman guard Chaniqwa Gilliam, who had five assists against the Retrievers, have found their roles.
“I think she’s handling it well,” Hodgson said of Bellamy. “I’ve really focused this year on taking the freshmen under my wing and just bringing them along with us, which I think is really important because both her and Ni-Ni can contribute a lot to our team, offensively and defensively.”
The Tribe returns to action Nov. 26 when it takes on Hartford at home.