WEST HARTFORD, Conn.—Junior forward Erin Brown (Bethesda,Md./Walt Whitman) scored 22 points and the UMBC women's basketball team (18-10, 12-3 AE) rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit to defeat America East rival Hartford (12-15, 9-5 AE) by a score of 53-48 Sunday afternoon at the Hawks' Chase Arena.
The win was the fifth straight for the Retrievers, who set a school Division I record with their 18th win on the season, while it snappedHartford's six-game winning streak. In addition, UMBC, which is currently in first place in the America East standings, can finish no lower than third, clinching its highest seed ever in eight seasons in the conference.
Trailing, 28-20, at halftime, the Retrievers made 10 of their first 14 field goals and held the Hawks without a basket for six minutes, opening the period on a 24-9 run to take a game-high seven-point lead, 44-37, with 9:53 left. Brown and senior guard Michele Brokans (Lansdale, Pa./Lansdale Catholic) hit back-to-back 3-pointers to start the spurt, and Brokans' third triple of the game gave UMBC its first lead.
Hartford scored 10 of the next 12 points, and consecutive 3-pointers by guard Jackie Smith put the Hawks back on top, 47-46, with 4:18 to go. But Brown responded with a trey of her own 26 seconds later to put the Retrievers on top for good, and UMBC made all four free throws in the final 25 seconds to seal the victory, holding Hartford to just one point over the final four minutes.
The Hawks led, 10-4, after six minutes of action, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Brown tied the game at 17-17, at the 7:18 mark. It was a one-point game, 21-20, with 4:36 to go, but Hartford ended the half on a 7-0 run to take an eight-point lead at halftime.
Brown's 22 points came on 8-of-13 shooting, including 4-of-6 from long distance, and she was named America East Player of the Game. Brokans added a career-high 11 points on a career-best three triples, and she also dished out six assists, while junior guard Michelle Kurowski (Hicksville, N.Y./Hicksville) gave the Retrievers three players in double figures with 10 points. Senior forwardMeghan Colabella (Upper Montclair, N.J./Montclair) pulled down a team-best eight rebounds.
Smith earned her team's Player of the Game honors with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, while forward Ruthanne Doherty posted a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards.
The Retrievers shot 37.7 percent from the floor, but shot a season-best 56.3 percent from 3-point range, matching a season high with nine triples. Hartford shot just 24 percent in the second half and 32.7 percent in the game, but won the battle of the boards, 36-33.
The Retrievers conclude the regular season on Wednesday, Feb. 23, when they host America East rival Albany at 7 p.m. at the RAC Arena. UMBC will honor seniors Brokans, Colabella and guard Chelsea Barker (Waterville, Maine/Messalonskee) in a pregame Senior Night ceremony.
Notes: UMBC has won five straight games for the first time since Nov. 29-Dec. 8, 2008… The victory was the Retrievers' first-ever at Chase Arena in eight contests… After starting the season 1-5, UMBC has won 17 of its last 22 contests… The Retrievers are eight games over .500 for the first time since Dec. 20, 1991, when they were 17-9.