BALTIMORE- UMBC senior guard Michelle Kurowski(Hicksville, N.Y.) led all scorers with 21 points and had plenty of help as the Retrievers celebrated a memorable Senior Day with a 72- 60 victory over Vermont.
UMBC completed the regular season at 15-14 and 9-7 in the America East Conference, while Vermont slipped to 10-19, 4-12. The Retrievers will be the No. 5 seed in next weekend's league tournament and will face No. 4 New Hampshire at 2:15 p.m. on Friday, March 2 in West Hartford, Conn. Both teams are 9-7 in league play and split the season series, but UNH (4-4) got the tie-breaker by virtue of a better road conference record than UMBC (3-5).
Kurowski, UMBC's America East Player of the Game, moved into second place on the school's all-time scoring list as she has amassed 1,646 points.
Vermont was led by freshman forward Niki Taylor, who scored 15 points, and Player of the Game, freshman guard Tierra Shumpert, who added 12 points and 5 assists.
Senior forward Erin Brown (Bethesda, Md./Whitman) and senior post Topé Obajolu(Randallstown, Md./Archbishop Carroll) added to their impressive career totals as well. Brown scored 11 points and added seven rebounds and is sixth on the school's all-time scoring list with 1,325 points and now tenth with 660 caroms.
Obajolu stuffed the stat sheet with 9 points, 5 rebounds, 5 blocked shots and 4 assists and further distanced herself as UMBC's all-time blocked shot leader with 158.
"It was a fun 24 hours for us with all the Senior Day ceremonies going on," head coach Phil Stern said. "Today we came out and played with a lot of emotion and (played) probably the best basketball we've played in a couple of weeks. It's nice to send the seniors off with a win."
Shumpert tied the game at 8-all at the 15:23 mark of the first half, but a backdoor layup by UMBC junior guard Kristin Coles (Charles Town, W.Va.) just 14 seconds later started a 12-2 run and gave the hosts a 20-10 advantage with 11:02 remaining in the half. UMBC steadily built the lead throughout the first 20 minutes and took a 40-23 margin into halftime.
The Retrievers forced 15 first-half turnovers by Vermont and outscored the Catamounts, 24-6, in the paint on a bevy of layups.
UMBC built the lead to 20 on two occasions in the second half and Vermont's smallest deficit in the stanza occurred when Taylor scored the game's final field goal with 8 seconds to play.
UMBC outrebounded Vermont, 41-30 and recorded assists on 18 of 26 field goals. They edged the Catmounts from the floor, hitting 26-of-61 shots (42.6%) to 23-of-57 (40.4%) by the visitors.
Coles posted her team-leading fifth double-double of the season as the 5- foot-7 guard scored 19 points and added a game-high 14 caroms. Freshman guard Lauren Chase (Bowie, Md./Riverdale Baptist) was the fourth Retriever in double figures with 11 points and a game-best 7 assists.
But the day belonged to the seniors, who all earned all-conference honors when UMBC captured the America East's regular season crown in 2010-11.
"It was definitely bittersweet," said Kurowski of what was most likely her final home appearance. "It's been a great four years. I couldn't have asked for anything else and now we have to get ready for tournament."