BALTIMORE—Junior forward Erin Brown (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman) scored a career-high 26 points to lift the UMBC women's basketball team (14-10, 8-3 AE) to its ninth straight home win, 56-49 victory over America East rival Maine (3-20, 1-10 AE) Saturday afternoon at the RAC Arena.
The America East Player of the Game, Brown also matched her career high with 11 rebounds to post her first double-double of the season and the sixth of her career. She shot 8-for-17 from the floor with a pair of 3-pointers, and she was a perfect 8-for-8 from the foul line, a new career best.
Brown was joined in double figures by her two classmates, guard Michelle Kurowski (Hicksville, N.Y./Hicksville) and center Topé Obajolu (Randallstown, Md./Archbishop Carroll), as the trio of juniors combined to score 53 of UMBC's 56 points in the game. Kurowski scored all 15 of her points in the second half, while Obajolu tallied 11 of her 12 in the first period.
The Retrievers led from the start, scoring the first seven points of the game and holding the Black Bears without a field goal for more than seven minutes. After Maine cut the lead to three points on a jumper by guard Tanna Ross at the 12:07 mark, UMBC opened a game-high 10-point advantage, 23-13, with 6:32 to play in the first half. But the Black Bears finished the period on an 8-3 run to pull to within five, 26-21, at halftime.
Brown and Obajolu combined for 23 of UMBC's 26 points in the first half, with senior guard Chelsea Barker (Waterville, Maine/Messalonskee) draining UMBC's last field goal of the period, a 3-pointer with 3:12 remaining.
Maine guard Amber Smith's jumper eight seconds into the second stanza pulled the Black Bears back to within three, but Brown scored six of the next nine points for the Retrievers to regain an eight-point advantage, 35-27, at the 16:36 mark.
But Maine kept fighting back, never falling behind by more than seven points the rest of the way and pulling to within two, 49-47, on a pair of free throws by forward Samantha Baranowski with 2:15 to go, but they could get no closer, missing on their next two possessions, and Brown sank all six of her free throws in the final 25 seconds to seal the victory for UMBC.
Smith earned her team's Player of the Game honors with a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds, while forward Corinne Wellington tallied 12 points and nine boards. The Black Bears held a 46-33 rebounding advantage.
Both teams struggled from the floor all game, as the Retrievers shot just 30.9 percent but limitedMaine to 31.5 percent.
Obajolu rejected three shots to give her 46 on the season, one shy of Monica Logan's school record, set in 1996-97. In addition, she has surpassed Mickey Stoffel for fourth place all-time at UMBC with 110 blocks in her career.
The Retrievers return to action on Wednesday, Feb. 9, when they visit America East rival Vermont.
NOTES: UMBC's eight America East wins are its most ever in its eight seasons in the conference… In addition, with 14 overall victories, the Retrievers have now surpassed their entire win total from last season… At 14-10, UMBC has its best record through 24 games since 2005-06 (15-9)… After starting the season 1-5, UMBC has won 13 of its last 18 contests… The Retrievers are 10-1 at the RAC Arena this season, the most home victories since 1993-94 (10) and one shy of the school record, set in 1990-91… In addition, UMBC has won nine straight at the RAC dating to Dec. 4 against Bucknell, its longest home winning streak since winning 10 straight from Dec. 17, 1993-Feb. 26, 1994… UMBC's trio of juniors – Brown, Kurowski and Obajolu – have accounted for 70 percent of the Retrievers' scoring output this season (955 of 1,365 points)… Brown has knocked down 29 straight free throws dating to Dec. 7 against Towson.