BALTIMORE—Senior forward Erin Brown (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman) and junior guard Kristin Coles (Charles Town, W.Va./Notre Dame Academy/American) each scored 15 points in the second half as the UMBC women's basketball team (7-7, 1-0 AE) rallied from an 11-point deficit to defeat New Hampshire (7-6, 0-1 AE) by a score of 67-65 Monday evening at the RAC Arena in the America East opener for both teams.
With the Retrievers down, 38-27, just 67 seconds into the second half, Coles took matters into her own hands, scoring 11 straight points for the hosts in an 11-2 run that pulled UMBC within two, 40-38 at the 15:44 mark.
The Wildcats responded with an 11-2 streak of their own a few minutes later and appeared to retake control of the game with a 58-47 lead. But after UNH center Kelly Flynn missed the back end of two foul shots to make it 61-51, Brown drained a big 3-pointer, came up with a steal and hit a fast-break layup to slash UMBC's deficit in half.
On New Hampshire's next possession, it was Coles who made the big steal and layup, forcing a timeout for the visitors, who now clung to a three-point advantage, 61-58, with 4:39 remaining. Two more Retriever steals on the Wildcats' next two trips down the court resulted in missed layups, but Brown was fouled shooting a 3-pointer and made all three foul shots to tie the game.
UNH committed its sixth straight turnover on its next possession, as freshman guard Lauren Chase (Bowie, Md./Riverdale Baptist) came up with the Retrievers' fifth steal in that stretch, and she dished it to Brown, who nailed the trey with 2:37 remaining to give UMBC its first lead since the 6:55 mark of the first half.
The teams traded free throws for the next 98 seconds, and the Retrievers led by just one, 66-65, with 59 seconds to play. Brown was fouled on UMBC's next possession and made one of two to give the hosts a two-point cushion, and senior guard Michelle Kurowski (Hicksville, N.Y./Hicksville) forced a turnover as the Wildcats drove down the court. This time Coles was fouled and went to the line with the chance to put the game away with 12 seconds left, but she missed both, giving UNH a chance to tie or win on its last possession. But LaRosa's last-second 3-point attempt hit nothing but air, and the Retrievers held on for the 67-65 win.
UMBC made nine of its first 12 shots in the game, while the Wildcats connected on six of 10, as the Retrievers led, 19-15, after 7:31 of play. But New Hampshire finished the half on a 19-5 run, as the hosts made just two of their last 18 shots of the period and trailed, 33-25, at the break.
The America East Player of the Game for UMBC, Brown finished with 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting and added three steals, while Coles scored a career-high 20 points on 7-of-10 from the floor. In addition, Chase stuffed the stat sheet with nine points, seven assists, five rebounds and a career-high four steals.
New Hampshire forward Denise Beliveau earned her team's Player of the Game honor, as she posted a huge double-double of 17 points and 16 rebounds. She was a perfect 8-for-8 from the foul line, and she added three assists. Forward Morgan Frame scored a game-high 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting and 7-of-7 from the line.
The Retrievers return to action Wednesday, when they visit America East rival Albany for a 7 p.m. tipoff.
Notes: Brown and Coles are the first set of Retriever teammates to score 20 points in the same game since Brown and Kurowski against Vermont on Jan. 15, 2011… With 21 points, Brown moves past Jessie Brown ('03) into 10th place all-time at UMBC with 1,134 career points… She has eclipsed the 20-point plateau in each of the Retrievers' last four wins... UMBC wins its America East opener for the second year in a row and the third time in nine seasons in the conference; the other two victories occurred in 2007, the year the Retrievers won the America East title, and 2010, the year they claimed the league's regular-season crown… UMBC has won 19 of its last 22 home games dating to Feb. 7, 2010... The victory was the Retrievers' seventh straight in America East play and fourth straight over New Hampshire.