Hartford, Conn.-In the end, the final score mattered little.
The 16th-seeded UMBC women's basketball (16-17) team fell to third-ranked and top-seeded Connecticut (30-3), 82-33, in the program's first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championships.
But to see UMBC competing against the storied program on ESPN2, to hear Huskies' legendary head coach Geno Auriemma say the Retrievers were "good at running their stuff", Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman say that Phil Stern "was a wonderful coach" and to witness the spirit of the Retrievers' fans in Hartford made the journey a complete success.
The Retrievers' journey was well-documented. As the seventh seed in the America East Tournament, UMBC defeated No. 2 Stony Brook, No. 3 Vermont and then top-seeded Hartford to win the league title and exhilarate the UMBC campus like never before.
As for the game, Retriever fans will remember Sharri Rohde's layup which tied the game at 2-2. Kristin Drabyn nailed two three-point attempts in the first half. UMBC ran several textbook back-door cuts for baskets. The Retrievers were hanging in there, down 29-20 with five minutes to play in the first half, but then Rohde picked up her third foul. The Huskies scored the final 12 points of the first half and ended up going on a 21-0 run, which assured the host Huskies of the victory.
Senior Brittnie Hughes led UMBC with nine points, and Rohde led UMBC's rebounding effort with four caroms. In addition, it was the third Retriever senior, Heather Luttrell, who scored UMBC's final basket, a three-point goal.
UMBC's 33 points and 13 field goals were both season lows. The Retrievers shot 25 percent as a team, compared to Connecticut's 59.7 percent. The Huskies were led by 19 points from Renee Montgomery and 15 by Charde Houston, all in the first half.
"We're very proud of our young ladies and the effort they put forth tonight," head coach Phil Stern said. "This has been an unbelievable week for us and for our university, and I think our kids handled themselves unbelievably. This was a great environment; it was a lot of fun for us. I thought we played well at times, but I thought we played scared at times. We ran the gamut of emotions out there, but for the most part we're just proud of everything we've done and how we've competed until the end. We played against a team tonight that might win the National Championship."