Nobody talks much about Tammy Phillip when they are scouting the University at Albany women’s basketball team.
But the 5-foot-11 senior guard, from Tortola, British Virgin Islands, was the big story in Tuesday night’s America East Conference game with the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
Phillip scored a career-high 17 points, swiped a career-best six steals, grabbed nine rebounds and recorded four assists as the two-time defending champion Great Danes remained unbeaten in conference play with a resounding 65-39 victory over the Retrievers at SEFCU Arena.
UAlbany is now 7-0 in the league and 17-3 overall, while UMBC drops to 1-7 and 2-18.
“She played one of her best games,” said UAlbany head coach Katie Abraham-Henderson of Phillip, who often flies under the radar. “I told her she can be another Ebone Henry [UAlbany’s all-time leading scorer] for us, but she can rebound even better than Ebone could,” Abrahamson-Henderson said. “She is so tall, and so athletic. I just hope she can sustain this.
“I told Tammy that if nobody is guarding her, take the shot. She also did very well defensively. In fact, Tammy started our defense by jumping in the passing lanes and getting the steals.”
Phillip averages nearly six points and eight rebounds, but despite the fact she has grabbed at least 10 rebounds six times and has scored in double figures on five occasions this year, she is usually the fourth or fifth scoring option. But that’s OK with the shy transfer from Central Arizona College.
Led by Phillip, the Great Danes made 10 steals in the first half and finished with 16 steals overall en route to forcing 23 UMBC turnovers.
“Obviously, it was all based on defense,” said Phillip. “Forcing turnovers is the key, but there is still plenty for us to improve on, like boxing out. Our defense also got a little sloppy at the end, but we will get better. Defense wins games.”
Almost lost in the shuffle was the steady play of sophomore forward Shereesha Richards, who, despite double- and triple-teams down low, produced 12 points, six rebounds, four steals and four assists. Richards, the league leader in both scoring and rebounding, has already been named the America East Conference player of the week a record nine times.
Although Richards was kept in check for the most part by the Retrievers, she set a school record for most field goals in a single-season with 180. And she still has nine more conference games, plus the conference tournament and possible post-season play, left to go.
“It feels good to know I’m the person who holds the record, but I just hope I can hold onto it for a while,” she said.
But Richards was more impressed with the play of her teammate.
“Tammy was getting wide-open shots because they were double-teaming me and Megan [Craig],” Richards said. “But she stepped up for us. I’m very excited for her. She’s not much different than me or Megan. She is a great rebounder and defender, but she can also score.”
Junior guard Sarah Royals added 11 points and four assists for the Danes, who recorded 19 assists and held a 38-27 rebounding advantage.
Up next for the Great Danes is a battle at second-place Stony Brook (6-1 in the league) on Thursday.
“We are playing three games in five days for the second time this season, and this is only the second time we’ve done that since I’ve been here,” Abrahamson-Henderson said. “They [the Seawolves] are very athletic. They are a very good team.”
Tarbert 4-8 3-4 12, O’Donnell 0-6 0-0 0, McNaughton 0-1 0-0 0, McCarley 3-7 1-3 7, Russo 1-5 0-0 3, Mills 0-1 0-0 0, Saling 2-6 0-0 0, Hagaman 5-8 1-1 11. Totals: 15-42 5-8 39.
Phillip 8-13 1-1 17, Richards 4-9 4-6 12, Craig 2-6 0-0 4, Rosario 2-4 2-2 7, Royals 4-9 2-3 11, Coughlin 3-6 0-0 9, Tate 0-1 0-0 0, Fequiere 0-5 0-0 0, Saunders 1-1 0-0 2, Williams 1-3 0-0 2, Edwards 0-2 1-2 1. Totals: 25-59 10-14 65.
Halftime: UAlbany, 34-15. Three-point goals: UMBC 4-11 (Tarbert 1-2, Russo 1-2, Mils 0-1, Saling 2-6); UAlbany 5-15 (Rosario 1-3, Royals 1-4, Coughlin 3-5, Fequiere 0-3). Rebounds: UMBC 27 (McCarley 8), UAlbany 38 (Phillip 9). Assists: UMBC 10 (McCarley 5), UAlbany 19 (Phillip 4, Richards 4, Rosario 4, Royals 4). Total fouls: UMBC 12, UAlbany 12. Fouled out: Craig. Attendance: 763.