WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – UMBC women's basketball senior Michelle Kurowski (Hicksville, N.Y./Hicksville) scored a game-high 25 points as the No. 5-seed Retrievers (17-14) defeated No.1-seed Boston University, 77-61, Sunday afternoon in the America East Semifinals at the Chase Family Arena on the campus of the University of Hartford.
Three other Retrievers were in double figures as UMBC becomes only the second No. 5 seed to make the conference finals since Hartford did so in 2002. UMBC's 77 points are a season-high, besting the previous mark of 75, set on Jan. 7 at Maine (75-55). This will be the Retrievers second ever appearance in the America East finals, with the other coming in 2007 when UMBC defeated Hartford, 48-46 at Binghamton's Events Center.
The Retrievers will travel to Albany, N.Y. to take on the No. 2-seed Albany Great Danes next Saturday, Mar. 10 for the conference final. In the second semifinal of the day, Albany defeated No. 6-seed Binghamton, 58-50, to advance to the final. Saturday's winner will earn an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Kurowski finished the game shooting 8-for-18, including a staggering 5-for-7 (71.4%) from behind the arc to lead UMBC. Classmates Topé Obajolu (Randallstown, Md./Archbishop Carroll) and Erin Brown (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman) were also in double figures for the Retrievers, scoring 13 points and 11 points, respectively. Junior Kristin Coles (Charles Town, W.Va./Notre Dame Academy/American) recorded her team-leading sixth double-double of the year, netting 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
After failing to record an assists against BU in two regular season matchups, America East Rookie of the YearLauren Chase (Bowie, Md./Riverdale Baptist) dished out five on Sunday versus only two turnovers. Kurowski also registered five assists, while Brown and junior Raven Harris (Virginia Beach, Va./Princess Anne/American) each recorded two helpers.
UMBC once again opened brightly in a tournament game, staking to an early three point advantage, 7-4, following a bucket by senior Michelle Kurowski (Hicksville, N.Y./Hicksville).
After the teams traded baskets, the Retrievers went on an 8-2 run, capped by a three by Kurowski from the left wing, giving UMBC an 11 point cushion, 23-12, with 8:42 left in the opening half.
Boston U. cut the lead down to eight, 31-23, after a pair of free throws by Mo Moran, but UMBC was able to take a ten point lead into the break after sophomore Dana Lewis (Brodhead, Wisc./Brodhead) made a backdoor cut on an inbounds pass, and finished with a lay-in providing the, 33-23, halftime margin.
UMBC made 50-percent of its three-point attempts (4-for-8) in the first half, while the Terriers only struck once from long range, on six attempts.
Boston U. opened the scoring in the second half with a jumper by Alex Young to cut the lead to eight, 33-25, with 19:23 left. Young led the Terriers with 20 points against UMBC.
The Retrievers pushed right back however, using a quick 6-0 run, to push the lead to 14, 39-25, on a lay-up by Obajolu, four minutes into the half.
After BU's Caroline Stewart cut the lead to 13, 44-31, UMBC ran off ten straight points.
Later, Brown and Harris answered two Stewart free throws with a lay-in and three-pointer, building the Retrievers' lead to a game-high 26 points at the 7:52 mark.
The lead would hit 26 again three times, the last after a pair of free throws by Obajolu with 5:52 remaining in the game, to make the score 65-39.
The Terriers cut the lead down to 14, 72-58, with a three from Young, but the regular season champions could not get any closer.
Following a missed lay-up by America East Player of the Year Chantell Alford, Harris was able to hold the ball and run out the remaining 20 seconds. The Retrievers limited Alford to just four points on 3-for-14 shooting.
The America East Championships game will be next Saturday, March 10 at 8 p.m. The game will be played at the University at Albany's SEFCU Arena.