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UMBC catches Hartford by surprise in America East finals

VESTAL, N.Y. -- UMBC coach Phil Stern was ecstatic after his team knocked off top-seeded Hartford to earn the first NCAA Tournament bid in school history.

The seventh-seeded Retrievers (16-16) got 14 points from Carlee Hudson and 10 from tournament MVP Amanda Robinson in a 48-46 win on Sunday in the America East championship game.

"We've gone from worst to first in a couple of years," Stern said. "Our effort today was unbelievable and we beat the best team in our league today."

The Retrievers had to knock off the three top seeds to become the lowest seed to win the tournament.

"There are no words to explain how we feel right now," said senior forward Sharri Rohde, who scored eight points. "We never gave up. I'll never be able to wipe the smile off my face."

Hartford (24-8, 15-2), the two-time defending champion, defeated UMBC twice during the season and had lost only once -- a 66-64 overtime loss to Vermont in January.

"We're disappointed in the loss today," Hartford and two-time America East Coach of the year Jennifer Rizzotti said. "We played hard throughout the whole year and that should guarantee us post-season play. Whether it's an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament or an invite to the WNIT, it's something to look forward to."

Morgan Hatten scored seven points for UMBC, including their last basket, a 3-pointer from the left corner that gave UMBC a 48-39 lead with just over six minutes remaining.

Hartford rallied to within 48-46 and had a chance to win, but Courtney Gomez's 3-pointer from the left win at the buzzer bounced off the rim.

Danielle Hood led the Hawks with 17 points. Diana Delva added 11 points and 16 rebounds.