GAINESVILLE, Fla.—After a strong first half, the UMBC women's basketball team (20-12) struggled in the second and fell to hostFlorida (19-14) by a score of 59-47 Friday evening in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament at the O'Connell Center.
Junior center Topé Obajolu (Randallstown, Md./Archbishop Carroll), an America East all-conference third-team selection, led the Retrievers with 16 points, including 12 in the first half, while junior forward Erin Brown (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman), a first-team pick, tallied 15 on five 3-pointers.
Playing in the final game of her career, senior forward Meghan Colabella (Upper Montclair, N.J./Montclair) finished one point shy of a double-double with nine points and 13 rebounds. She ends her career with 600 career rebounds, the 13th Retriever ever to reach that mark.
Florida led, 14-8, after six minutes, but a 7-0 UMBC run, capped by a 3-pointer by junior guard Michelle Kurowski (Hicksville, N.Y./Hicksville) gave the Retrievers their first lead of the game at the 10:47 mark. The teams then traded triples for the next three and a half minutes as the lead see-sawed back and forth. Obajolu hit a layup with two seconds remaining in the first half to give the Retrievers a 32-31 halftime advantage.
UMBC came out of the locker room hot, scoring the first seven points of the period to take a game-high eight-point led, 39-31, after just two minutes. But the Gators responded with a 20-3 run over the next 6:20 to go up 51-42 at the 11:43 mark.
The Retrievers trailed by just five, 52-47, with 6:25 remaining after five straight foul shots by Colabella, but Florida held UMBC without a point for the remainder of the game.
After shooting 53.8 percent (14-for-26) in the first half, the Retrievers made just four of 26 field goals (15.4 percent) in the second, with just one in the final 18 minutes, and they finished at 34.6 percent for the contest. Florida shot 43.1 percent in the game.
Guard Jordan Jones led the Gators with 18 points, while guard Jaterra Bonds added 13.
Despite losing back-to-back games for the first time since Dec. 10-18, the Retrievers matched a school record with 20 victories and earned their second-ever postseason berth after winning the America East regular-season title with a 13-3 conference mark. UMBC will return 82 percent of its offense next season, including its top three scorers in Kurowski (14.6 ppg), Brown (14.3 ppg) and Obajolu (10.6 ppg).