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WOMEN'S BASKETBALL IS HEADED FOR NEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME; RETRIEVERS' TO FACE #1 SEED ST. FRANCIS (PA) NEXT
One more to go!
Fairfield, CT -- Shalayna Johnson (Washington, DC) poured in a game-high 23 points to help #7 seed UMBC continue their streak of upsets and knock off #3 seed Monmouth University 48-40 in an NEC Tournament semifinal Sunday afternoon. Just yesterday, UMBC became the first seven-seed to knock off a number two in the history of the NEC Tournament and now find themselves one win away from the NCAA Tournament.
After UMBC scored the first four points of the game, Monmouth hit seven of its next nine shots and took a 17-11 lead with 8:52 left in the first. The Retrievers refused to go away, however, and a layup by Shalayna Johnson (Washington, DC) with 1:13 left in the half gave UMBC a 23-22 lead. She would follow that up with a three-pointer with :34 left to give the Retrievers a 26-22 lead at the break. Johnson finished the half with 14 points.
The Retrievers got a bucket from sophomore Christine Catalanotto (Queens, NY) early in the second half to make it 29-22, but then the offensive lights went out for six minutes. In that time Monmouth scored six straight points, capped by a Bridgette Bynum (Philadelphia, PA) jumper that had the Hawks within one at 29-28 with 13:41 to play.
UMBC (14-15) stretched the lead out to as high as seven again. They led 42-39 with :33 left when Monmouth’s Erin Winston (Bowie, MD) was fouled driving to the hoop. She made the first shot but missed the second. Rashawanah French had a chance to tie the game when she grabbed an offensive rebound, but her put-back attempt rolled off the rim.
Monmouth (18-11) was then forced to foul and UMBC senior guard Jessie Brown (Salisbury, MD) calmly sank both free throw attempts to put the Retrievers up four.
On the next Monmouth possession freshman Liz Whalen dribbled the ball off her foot out of bounds. Brown was again fouled, and again hit both free throws to put the Hawks away and send the Retrievers on the to the NEC title game. Brown would finish the game with 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists.”
“She (Brown) is a great leader,” said UMBC coach Phil Stern. “We put the ball in her hands tonight. She was able to get the ball to the right people in the right situations and came up with the huge free throws at the end.”
“It’s hard to say how far we’ve come,” said Stern. “Starting the year 0-3 and losing in triple overtime to Robert Morris, and now being in the championship game in the Northeast Conference. We came here with a system. The kids bought into and with two great senior guards leading the way we are becoming success. I am really of our kids and our program today.”
“I am disappointed in the result,” said Monmouth coach Jackie DeVane. “We didn’t play with the same sense of urgency that UMBC did. You need that especially in the tournament to win.”
The Retrievers will have to go through top-seeded St. Francis (PA) if they are to make the NCAA Tournament. The championship game will be played at the Maurice Stokes Center on the campus of St. Francis University on Saturday, March 15 at 4 p.m. The game will be televised live on the Madison Square Garden Network (MSG).