Women's Basketball Falls to UMBC, 69-51

BALTIMORE, Md.Jill McDonald (Middlebury, Vt.) registered a team-best 14 points, including 12 in the second half, but the University of New Hampshire women's basketball team dropped a 69-51 decision to the University of Maryland Baltimore County Sunday afternoon at the RAC Arena.

The loss drops the Wildcats to 5-14 overall and 2-5 in America East play, while UMBC improves to 11-9 overall and 5-2 in conference action.

McDonald earned America East Player of the Game honors for New Hampshire, scoring her 14 points on 6-of-13 shooting from the floor and 2-of-2 shooting from the charity stripe. She rounded out the afternoon with four boards and two blocks.

Cari Reed

Cari Reed (Oswego, N.Y.) was UNH's only other double-digit scorer, notching 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the field and 3-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc.

Tope Obajolu took home player of the game honors for UMBC, posting a career-high 28 points, five rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

After trading baskets in the early the going, UMBC picked up the pace about three minutes into the action, piecing together an 11-2 run that lasted just under six minutes. The Retrievers kicked off the stretch with six unanswered points and Obajolu finished off the run with a pair of fast break layups less than a minute apart, pushing the home team ahead, 15-7, with 11:21 remaining in the first stanza.  

The Wildcats would respond with a 13-5 run that lasted just over six minutes, knotting the score at 20-20 with 4:26 remaining. New Hampshire scored on two straight trips up the floor to start the stretch, as Lauren Wells (West, Chester, Pa.) knocked down one-of-two free throw attempts from the line and Kelsey Hogan (Nashua, N.H.) banked in a layup, cutting the deficit down to five at the 10-minute mark.

It would be nearly two minutes until either team found the bottom of the basket, but Michelle Kurowski provided a much needed score for UMBC draining a 3-pointer that pushed the lead back up to eight with the score 18-10 with just over eight minutes to play.

New Hampshire surrendered just two points over the next 3:37, as the Wildcats outscored the Retrievers 10-2 during the span. Reed polished off the stretch with a runner in the lane that evened the score at 20-20 with 4:26 on the clock. The Retrievers came back with eight unanswered to close out the first half, holding a 28-20 lead at the intermission.

UNH opened up the second stanza with baskets on back-to-back possessions, as McDonald led off with a leaner in the paint and Wells banked in a tough layup from the right side, cutting UMBC's lead down to four points at 18:28. A pair of Obajolu free throws set off a 7-3 run by the home team, as UMBC posted its largest lead to that point, jumping ahead, 37-27, with just over 15 minutes remaining.

The Wildcats threatened the lead once again firing off a 6-2 run that lasted just over three minutes, setting the score at 39-33 with 11:30 remaining. McDonald fueled UNH, dropping in the first and last basket on the stretch, while Hogan drained a midrange jumper in between to ignite the 'Cats.

That would be as close as New Hampshire would come to reclaiming the advantage the rest of the way, as it was unable to trim the deficit to single digits for the remainder of the contest. Erin Brown helped erase any chance of a comeback, knocking down a jumper at 7:54 that sparked a 16-7 scoring stretch, giving the Retrievers their largest lead of the contest with a 64-44 edge at 2:08.

The Wildcats return to action Wednesday, Jan. 26 (7 p.m.) when they face off against Maine at Alfond Arena.

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