Four Retrievers Reach Double Figures in 60-57 Win Over Loyola in Non-Conference Finale

Tope Obajolu finished one rebound shy of her first double-double of the season, tallying 11 points and nine boards.
Tope Obajolu finished one rebound shy of her first double-double of the season, tallying 11 points and nine boards.

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BALTIMORE—Junior guard Michelle Kurowski (Hicksville, N.Y./Hicksville) led four Retrievers in double figures as the UMBC women's basketball team (6-7) won for the fifth time in its last seven games, defeating cross-town rival Loyola (3-8) by a score of 60-57 in its non-conference finale Wednesday evening at the RAC Arena.

Kurowski, the America East Player of the Game, scored a game-high 18 points and added seven rebounds. She was joined in double figures by junior forward Erin Brown (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman) with 16 points, junior center Topé Obajolu (Randallstown,Md./Archbishop Carroll) with 11 and sophomore guard Kristin Coles (Charles Town, W.Va./Notre Dame Academy/American) with 10. It was the first time four Retrievers scored in double digits in the same game since Jan. 18, 2010, against Binghamton.

Obajolu also pulled down a season-high nine boards, while Brown and senior guard Michele Brokans (Lansdale, Pa./Lansdale Catholic) each grabbed seven, as UMBC outrebounded Loyola, 41-29.

The Retrievers turned the ball over nine times in the first nine minutes, leading to the Greyhounds' first 11 points of the game. Loyola led, 11-5, at the 13:12 mark before a 3-pointer by Brown sparked a 20-8 UMBC run over the next seven minutes that put the Retrievers on top for good, 24-19, with 5:06 to play. Brown scored eight points during that stretch, while Obajolu had seven.

Five straight Loyola points tied the score just over a minute later, but the Retrievers answered back with five of their own to end the half with a 29-24 lead. Brown, who scored UMBC's first eight points and 13 of the team's first 16, finished the period with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range, matching her career high for treys.

A 3-pointer by Loyola guard Erica DiClemente to start the second stanza cut the visitors' deficit to just two points, but the Retrievers used a 13-5 run to take a game-high 10-point lead, 42-32, at the 13:53 mark. Kurowski had seven points during that stretch.

But the Greyhounds responded with seven straight points and 13 of the next 17 over the next six minutes to trim that lead to just one, 46-45, before a layup by Kurowski curbed the spurt and ignited a 6-0 UMBC run that gave the Retrievers some breathing room with a seven-point advantage.

Loyola, however, did not give up, again cutting it to one, 55-54, with 2:27 remaining, but could not capitalize on a pair of UMBC missed shots and a Retriever turnover over the next 1:41. Kurowski and Brokans hit four straight free throws to regain a five-point lead, 59-54, with 32 seconds to go, but Loyola guard Katie Sheahin drained a 3-pointer on the Greyhounds' next possession to make it a two-point game with 26 seconds left.

Sheahin then fouled Kurowski, the America East's leading free throw shooter, but she missed her second shot, giving the Greyhounds a chance to tie it up, but Loyola missed three straight attempts in the waning seconds and the Retrievers held on for the 60-57 victory.

UMBC was 20-for-26 at the foul line, making its most free throws since March 13, 2009, againstBinghamton in the America East quarterfinals. Five of six players to see action in the game went to the line at least once, including Kurowski, who was 8-for-11, and Coles, who was 6-for-8. UMBC connected on just seven field goals in the second half but made 17 free throws. The Retrievers, however, did not commit a foul in the first half and had just seven in the game, their fewest since Feb. 13, 2010 at New Hampshire. Meanwhile, Loyola committed just two fouls in the first period.

Loyola guard Miriam McKenzie led the Greyhounds with 18 points, while Sheahin added 15. Forward Meredith Tolley pulled down a game-best 12 rebounds.

The win over Loyola completes a three-game sweep over the other Baltimore teams on UMBC's schedule, as the Retrievers also defeated Coppin State and Towson earlier this season.

The Retrievers return to action on Monday, Jan. 3, when they open America East Conference play at Stony Brook.