WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – Junior Morgan Frame (Waterville, Maine) scored a game-high 21 points, but the University of Maryland, Baltimore County scored the game's final five points to pull out a 59-57 victory against the University of New Hampshire in Friday afternoon's America East Championship women's basketball quarterfinal at Chase Family Arena.
The fourth-seeded Wildcats' season ends with a record of 16-13, while the Retrievers (16-14) advance to Sunday's semifinal game against top-seeded Boston University.
After four straight free throws put UNH on top, 57-54, with 1:29 left in regulation, UMBC answered with a free throw and then a slashing layup by Lauren Chase to even the score at 57-57 with 46 seconds remaining. On UNH's next possession, Erin Brown drew an offensive foul in the paint, setting up the Retrievers with the ball with 25 seconds left to play. On the final play, Michelle Kurowski faced an expiring clock and drove to the basket through traffic, drawing the foul with 1.3 seconds left in the game as she hit both free throws to seal the win.
Frame shot 9-of-13 from the field and added six rebounds, while sophomore Kelsey Hogan (Nashua, N.H.) recorded 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the floor. Senior Denise Beliveau (Framingham, Mass.) posted 11 points and a team-high nine rebounds. As a team, the Wildcats shot 44 percent from the field.
Senior Erin Brown and junior Kristin Coles paced the Retrievers with 15 points apiece, while the team shot 40 percent from the floor.
UNH and UMBC split a pair of tight contests during the regular season while today's game featured 10 lead changes and marked the second in this season's three-game set to be decided by two points.
The Retrievers raced out to an early lead, opening with seven unanswered points over the first 2:23 of action before senior Abigail LaRosa (Hampton, N.H.) and Frame netted back-to-back layups to trim the deficit to 7-4 at the first media timeout.
After swapping low post baskets, UMBC managed to earn consecutive trips to the charity stripe and converted three foul shots for the 12-4 advantage. On UNH's next possession, Hogan stepped up and drilled a 3-pointer with only seconds left on the shot clock to halt UMBC's opening spurt.
Following a slow offensive start, UNH began to move the ball inside to Frame, who scored the team's next six points to pull the Wildcats within four at 17-13 with 8:02 left in the first half. Frame's final two buckets of the stretch sparked a 6-0 run by a Wildcats as Beliveau capped off the run with a tough offensive board and lay-in, slicing the deficit to 17-15. Beliveau kept up the scoring attack with a 3-pointer and driving layup, but UMBC continued to answer on the other end of the floor to maintain a two-point lead.
UNH would finally pull ahead on a post bucket by senior Kelley Flynn (Hopkinton, N.H.) late in the half, but the Retrievers responded with a layup by Coles for the slim 26-25 lead at halftime. Frame paced the Wildcats with eight points in the opening 20 minutes, shooting 4-of-6 from the floor, while Brown led UMBC with nine points.
Both teams were strong offensively to kick off the second half, as UMBC moved the ball around a number of scorers while UNH went to Frame inside for its first six points. After five lead changes over the first 11:46 of the second stanza, the back-and-forth action ended when UMBC reeled off an 11-0 run for the 49-41 lead with 10:05 remaining.
After LaRosa hit a pair of free throws to break up a six minute scoreless stretch, the Wildcats chipped away until Hogan nailed a short jumper to cap off a 6-0 run and even the score at 53-53 with 3:28 left to play.
The teams then swapped a pair of trips to the free throw line as LaRosa and Hogan combined for four free throws for the three-point lead with 1:29 remaining, but the Retrievers scored the game's final five points to storm back for the win.
This marked the final game for Beliveau, LaRosa and Flynn, while Beliveau ends her Wildcat career ranked seventh all-time in scoring (1,341), fourth in rebounding (835) and third in steals (196).