Retrievers Win Fourth Straight, Defeat Towson, 69-68, in Women’s Basketball Thriller

BALTIMORE—The UMBC women's basketball team won its fourth straight game and handed cross-town rival Towson (5-1) its first loss of the season with a 69-68 thriller Saturday evening at the RAC Arena. The Retrievers improve to 6-2 on the season, matching the best start in the program's Division I history.

UMBC had dropped four straight contests to the Tigers and defeated Towson for the first time since 2002.

Junior guard Carlee Cassidy (Syracuse, N.Y./Westhill) was named America East Player of the Game after scoring a game-high 23 points, including the Retrievers' last five. She has scored at least 20 points in seven of eight games this season.

Freshman guard Michelle Kurowski (Hicksville, N.Y./Hicksville) followed up her 30-point performance against Navy on Wednesday with 22 points, three assists and three steals against the Tigers. Freshman forward Erin Brown (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman) posted her second double-double in three games with 10 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 4-for-9 from the floor.

The Retrievers got off to a slow start offensively, making just eight field goals in the first half and shooting 28.6 percent from the floor, but 18 Towson turnovers in the first period kept the game close. The Tigers led, 34-29, at halftime.

Brown drained a three-pointer just 11 seconds into the second half to trim UMBC's deficit to 34-32, but Towson scored eight straight points to take a game-high 11-point lead, 43-32, with 18:27 remaining. Brown hit her second triple of the game on the next Retriever possession to give the momentum back to the hosts, who went on a 12-3 run to again cut the margin to two points, 46-44, with 15 minutes left. Cassidy scored seven points during the stretch.

But the Tigers scored the next seven points to reopen a nine-point advantage, 53-44, with 11:22 left on the clock, and the teams traded baskets for the next two minutes before 10 points by Kurowski sparked a 14-4 Retriever spurt that was capped by a layup by Cassidy that gave UMBC a 62-61 lead.

A three-pointer by Towson guard Omara Parker put the visitors up by two points, 66-64, with just under three minutes remaining, but Cassidy answered with a triple of her own to put the Retrievers back on top, 67-66, with 1:34 to play.

Towson guard Shanae Baker-Brice sank two free throws to again put the Tigers up by one, but Cassidy nailed her two foul shots with 54 seconds remaining for the 69-68 lead.

Parker missed a jumper on Towson's next possession, and UMBC sophomore guard Michele Brokans (Lansdale, Pa./Lansdale Catholic) grabbed the rebound and quickly dished to Cassidy, but the Retrievers' best free throw shooter missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Tiger guard Alis Freeman pulled down the rebound, giving Towson hope with 32 seconds left.

With 13 seconds to play, Baker-Brice missed her lay-up at the other end of the floor, but Towson forward Katrina Wheeler brought down the offensive board. After a Towson timeout, Parker fired off a three-pointer with one second remaining, but it hit the rim and fell into the hands of UMBC sophomore forward Meghan Colabella (Upper Montclair, N.J./Montclair), and the Retrievers celebrated the victory.

Parker led four Tigers in double figures with 15 points, while Wheeler posted a double-double with 12 points and a game-high 13 rebounds to go along with three blocks.

The Retrievers were much better from the floor in the second period, shooting 48.4 percent (15-for-34), including 54.5 percent from three-point range (6-for-11), and finished at 39 percent from the field in the game. However, UMBC shot well below its America East-best .746 season average from the foul line, shooting just 59.3 percent (16-for-27).

Towson shot 36.4 percent from the floor by went 18-for-22 (81.8 percent) from the charity stripe. The Tigers also outrebounded UMBC, 50-38, including an 18-11 advantage on the offensive boards.

The Retrievers return to action on Monday, Dec. 8, when they conclude their three-game home stand with their third straight cross-town rival in Coppin State at 7 p.m.