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#1 UMBC ousts #8 Stony Brook at America East women’s basketball championship tourney

Senior Kirsten Jeter, center, fought out a double-double in her final game as a Seawolf. Stony Brook lost to top-seed UMBC in the America East quarterfinals. (Photo: Sam Kilb)

In the quarterfinals matchup of the America East Tournament, the eighth-seeded Stony Brook women’s basketball team battled but fell to top-seeded UMBC, 74-65.

In her final game as a Seawolf, Kirsten Jeter (Elmont, N.Y.) led Stony Brook with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Sophomore center Juanita Cochran (Saginaw, Mich.) added 15 points and seven rebounds.

“We had a gameplan in mind, but we didn’t follow it and that resulted in a loss,” head coach Evelyn Thompson said. “But this is not something we’re going to hang our heads about because we didn’t just lie down, we fought and that’s something I’m proud of.”

With the game tied at 11 with just over 12 minutes left in the half, Tamiel Murray (Teaneck, N.J.) found Talisha Bridges (Kalamazoo, Mich.) for a layup off an in-bounds pass to give Stony Brook the lead.

But back-to-back scores from Erin Brown would give the Retrievers the lead for good. They ended the half on a 16-8 run to go into halftime leading 29-23.

UMBC played great defense on Jeter in the first half, limiting her touches and denying her the ball in the post. She ended the half with only three points.

“Early on it was a physical game and the refs told us to watch out,” Jeter said. “So rather than fighting and getting into foul trouble, I had to keep my composure and do the best I could to get open.”

Sophomore Sam Landers (Springfield, Va.) was held scoreless on 0-for-7 shooting from the field.

The Retrievers came out firing in the second half, taking a 38-27 lead after a layup from Michelle Kurowski.

The referees started calling the game very close early in the half, as Stony brook was in the bonus with just under 15 minutes to go. The Retrievers shot 31 free throws in the half, hitting 23 of them.

“We needed to play smarter when it comes down to it,” Landers said. “Both our bigs were in foul trouble so it just wasn’t smart on our part and it hurt us because they’re really good free throw shooters.”

A couple free throws from Landers and a jumper from Jeter would cut the lead to seven at 61-54, but Michele Brokans hit a crushing three-pointer from the corner to extend the lead to 10 with a little over two minutes to go.

Stony Brook continued to battle, but UMBC hit its free throws on its way to victory.

The Seawolves were held to 36 percent shooting from the field and 33 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Landers finished with 10 points and was held to 2-of-12 from the field.

Kurowski led the Retrievers with 26 points and 13 rebounds. Brown added 17 points and the team finished the game shooting 45 percent from the field.

After the game, a visibly upset Jeter reflected on the season.

“I love my teammates and my coaches and the administration that supports us,” Jeter said. “This was a great learning experience. At the end of the day we’re still a family, and that’s all that matters.”

The Seawolves had a rough season with season-ending injuries to two of their seniors and their head coach resigning in the middle of conference play, but they continued to fight until the end.

“These women could’ve easily folded after all the adversity we faced this year, but they didn’t,” Thompson said. “Instead they grew into this fantastic team that I am blessed to have coached. They not only made me a better coach, but a better woman.”

Thompson currently holds the title of interim head coach, but said she hopes to come back next year after developing a strong relationship with the team

“I have one child, a son, and no daughters,” Thompson said. “After this season I feel like I have 13 daughters, because they’ve become that. I couldn’t have asked for my first coaching experience to be with a better group of young women.”

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