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Women's Basketball Takes on Hartford in Championship Game Rematch
Michele Brokans scored a career-high nine points and tied a career-best with six assists against New Hampshire.
WEST HARTFORD, Conn.--The UMBC women's basketball team (6-14, 2-5 AEC) takes on first-place Hartford (16-4, 6-1 AEC) Tuesday evening for the first time since the Retrievers upset the two-time defending champion Hawks in the America East Championship game last March. Listen to WWUH's call of the game, or for a small fee you can watch the game live. As always, you can follow the game from your computer with GameWatcher LiveStats.
RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC is 6-14 on the season and 2-5 in America East play after a 77-67 loss to league rival New Hampshire on Saturday. The Retrievers who have lost eight of their last 10 games. Sophomore guard Carlee Cassidy posted her seventh 20-point performance of the season, while junior guard Chantay Frazier scored 14 points to go along with a career-high eight rebounds. The leading scorer in the America East, Cassidy is averaging 17.6 ppg this season, but she has scored 20.3 ppg in the last 11 games, and she has scored in double figures in 13 in a row. The Retrievers lead the America East and rank 10th in the nation in 3-pointers made per game (7.6). UMBC also ranks second in the league and 12th in the NCAA in free throw percentage (.775).
HAWK UPDATE: Hartford is 16-4 overall and 6-1 in America East play after picking up its sixth-straight league victory with a 70-55 win at Stony Brook last Tuesday. Danielle Hood led the four Hawks in double figures with 23 points on 11-of-16 shooting. Hood leads Hartford and ranks third in the America East with 15.8 ppg this season, while Diana Delva and Erica Beverly have each posted a team-best 6.9 rpg, third-best in the league. The Hawks lead the America East in scoring defense (55.8 ppg), field goal defense (37.5%) and scoring margin (+8.1). Delva leads the conference in shooting at 60.9 percent on the season.
Who’s Up Next: The Retrievers return home to host America East rival Maine in the first game of a UMBC hoops doubleheader on Saturday, Feb. 9. UMBC is just 1-8 all-time against the Black Bears, including a 67-55 loss in Orono in Jan. 5.
Inside the Series...
Tonight’s game marks the 11th all-time meeting between UMBC and Hartford, and the Hawks hold an 8-2 series advantage. The first meeting occurred on Dec. 29, 2002, a 60-47 victory for Hartford at the St. Joseph’s Hawk Classic. The Hawks won the first contest as America East rivals in 2004, but the Retrievers won at home that season, 48-46. Hartford then won six straight, including a sweep of the 2007 regular-season series, but UMBC got its revenge in the America East Tournament, stunning the top-seeded and two-time defending champ Hawks, 48-46, in the title game. As America East rivals, the teams have met twice a year since the Retrievers joined the conference in 2003-04. UMBC has never won in four tries at Chase Arena.
In the teams’ last meeting, March 11, 2007, in the America East title game, the Retrievers held a 12-point lead with less than 10 minutes to play but did not score in the final six minutes. The Hawks chipped away, cutting their deficit to just two points with 28 seconds remaining. But Diana Delva missed four free throws in the final 14 seconds, and a three-point attempt by Courtney Gomez at the buzzer hit the rim and bounced out to seal the 48-46 victory and UMBC’s first-ever conference championship. Carlee Cassidy led the Retrievers with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Danielle Hood led the Hawks with 17 points.
News and Notes...
For Starters: UMBC opens the season 6-14 for the first time since the 1989-90 season and just the second time in 22 years at the Division I level. The Retrievers dropped the 21st game of the 1989-90 season and are 11-10 in Game 21 since 1986-87.
Top Dawg: Sophomore guard Carlee Cassidy is the America East’s leading scorer with 17.6 ppg. Cassidy has scored in double figures in 18 out of 20 games this season, including the last 13, and she has six 20-point performances. She has also led the Retrievers in scoring 13 times this season, including nine of the last 12 games. She has averaged 20.3 ppg over the last 11 games, including a career-high 27 points at Maine, tying the second-best offensive output in the conference this season.
Three’s Company: The Retrievers have made at least one 3-pointer in 91 straight games dating to Feb. 5, 2005, and they have made at least four in each game this season, including a season-high 12 against Northern Iowa on Dec. 9, and 10 four times - against Mount St. Mary’s on Nov. 24, at Loyola on Dec. 3, at Maryland on Dec. 30 and against New Hampshire on Feb. 2. The Retrievers lead the America East and rank 10th in the nation with 7.6 three-pointers per game this season. In addition, sophomore guard Carlee Cassidy leads the conference and rankd 27th in the NCAA with 2.6 three-pointers per game, while senior guard Kristin Drabyn ranks third and 81st, respectively, with 2.2.
Drabyn for Three: Senior guard Kristin Drabyn ranks second all-time at UMBC with 143 career 3-point field goals. Averaging 2.2 trifectas per game, she is on pace to break Shalayna Johnson’s school record of 151 trifectas on Feb. 16 at Binghamton. Drabyn also ranks third with a career .350 shooting percentage from long distance. She sank her 100th career 3-pointer in the season opener against George Washington, becoming just the sixth player in UMBC history to reach that milestone. Drabyn’s 68 3-pointers last season ranked second among all-time Retriever juniors and are the fourth-highest single-season total in UMBC history, while her 44 trifectas so far this season are the fourth-most among all-time Retriever seniors.
Cassidy for Three, Too: Sophomore guard Carlee Cassidy’s 52 three-pointers this season are the second-most ever by a UMBC sophomore and the eighth-best single-season total in UMBC history. She has also moved into the Retrievers’ all-time top-10 for career trifectas, as she is now for seventh with 83, and she ranks fifth with a .333 career 3-point shooting percentage. Cassidy has averaged 3.4 trifectas per game in the last 11 games, and she leads the America East with 2.6 per game on the season.
Oh, Baby: Expected to miss the entire season, senior center Amanda Robinson returned to the UMBC lineup on Wednesday just a six weeks after giving birth to her son, Jaden. Robinson could have sat out the whole season and returned for the 2008-09 campaign, but she decided to exhaust her eligibility this year because she plans to graduate in May. In her first two games back, Robinson has averaged 5.5 ppg and 4.0 rpg in 23.0 mpg off the bench. Robinson was the Most Outstanding Player of the 2007 America East Tournament and the Retrievers’ third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder last season.
Injury Report: With junior guard Melissa Book already sidelined for the rest of the season due to the lingering effects of a concussion, the Retrievers received more bad news when senior guard Morgan Hatten went down with a knee injury early in the Vermont game. Hatten had arthroscopic surgery on Jan. 25 to remove the torn part of her meniscus, and she is expected to miss two to four weeks. Because of the injuries, the Retrievers dressed just eight players on Jan. 22 at Albany, and only six players saw action, with four playing all 40 minutes in the 56-55 victory.
Sister Act: With senior center Amanda Robinson’s return, the Retrievers finally have the “sister act” they expected last season, as she teams with younger sister Chrissy Robinson, a freshman center. The Robinsons are believed to be the third pair of sisters to play on the same team at UMBC, joining Carol and Debbie Sybert (1979-80) and twins Karen and Sharon Keadle (1979-82).
Helping Hand: All eight Retrievers who played at Boston University on Wednesday recorded at least one assist, the first time this season that every player who saw action tallied at least one helper. Injured senior Morgan Hatten recently moved into UMBC’s all-time top 15 list with 181 career assists. Freshman point guard Michele Brokans has proved this season that it is better to give than to receive, as she has unselfishly dished out 53 assists while shooting just 51 field goal attempts. Hatten ranks seventh in the America East with 2.88 apg, while Brokans is eighth with 2.65 apg.
Charity Case: The Retrievers rank second in the America East and rank 12th in the NCAA with a .775 free throw percentage after going a perfect 7-for-7 from the line against New Hampshire on Saturday. UMBC has shot better than 90 percent from the charity stripe three times this season when going to the line more than 10 times. The Retrievers went 17-for-18 (.944) in the season opener against George Washington, hitting their first 16 free throw attempts of the game. Sophomore guard Carlee Cassidy led the way for UMBC, hitting all nine of her foul shots, marking the best perfect game for a Retriever from the foul line since Brittnie Hughes went 9-for-9 at American on Dec. 1, 2005. Cassidy’s performance remains the top mark in the America East this season. She ranks fourth in the America East and 82nd in the nation with an .808 free throw percentage (59-for-73).
What Sophomore Slump?: While many second-year players experience the dreaded “sophomore slump,” UMBC guard Carlee Cassidy has actually improved in every category this season. The most noticiable change is in scoring, as she has gone from 4.5 ppg as a rookie to 17.6 ppg this season. In addition, Cassidy has shot up UMBC’s sophomore record books, as her 352 points this season rank fourth among the Retrievers’ all-time second-year players.
Delightful December: Though UMBC was just 2-4 in the month of December, at least one Retriever should have been sad to see it go. Sophomore guard Carlee Cassidy averaged 20.0 ppg and shot at a 48.9 percent clip in six December games. She never scored less than 15 points and posted three 20-plus performances, including both games of the Terrapin Classic. Entering December, her scoring average was at its season low, 13.9 ppg, but she raised it nearly three full points during the month to 16.7 ppg, and the nation took note, as she earned honorable mention for the WBCA National Player of the Month award.
On Fire: Senior guard Kristin Drabyn shot lights out last week, as she made 70 percent of her shots (14-of-20) in the final two games of January. She went 8-for-11 (72.7 %) at Albany on Jan. 22, UMBC’s best individual shooting performance of the season, and made her first seven shots, then followed that with a 6-for-9 (66.7 %) performance at Boston U. on Jan. 30. She also shot 63.6 percent (7-for-11) from 3-point range and averaged a team-best 19.0 ppg during that span.
Tale of Two Halves: Sophomore guard Carlee Cassidy, the Retrievers’ leading scorer, has a pattern this season of coming on strong in the second half. Through the first 18 games this season, Cassidy averaged just 6.1 points in the first 20 minutes but came to life in the second half with an average of 11.4 points. However, she bucked that trend on Wednesday at Boston U., as she scored 17 points in the first half, nearly reaching her season scoring average of 17.5 ppg, but then did not score at all in the second period. In her last three games, she has averaged 12.3 ppg in the first half and 6.3 ppg in the second.
Tale of Two Halves, Part II: The Retrievers played one of their best halves of the season in the first 20 minutes at Boston University on Wednesday, shooting 52 percent (13-for-25) with six 3-pointers and just six turnovers, and they led the Terriers by 16 points at halftime, 38-22. However, BU came out extremely strong in the second half, making seven of their first 11 shots, and eventually outscored the Retrievers, 50-24, in the period to complete the improbable comeback for a 10-point win and hand UMBC one of its most disappointing losses of the season. UMBC, which had been 4-0 when leading at halftime heading into the week, has outscored its opponents, 70-52, in the first half in the last two games, but has been been outscored, 97-59 in the second period.
Double Your Pleasure: Sophomore guard Carlee Cassidy has scored in double figures in each of the last 13 games, and 18 out of 20 contests overall this season, while senior guard Kristin Drabyn is riding a three-game double-digit scoring streak. Drabyn has scored 10 or more points in 11 of the last 15 games. A season-high four Retrievers scored in double figures against Northern Iowa for the first time since Jan. 7, 2007.
Rookie of the Week: Freshman forward Meghan Colabella was named the America East Rookie of the Week for Week 10. She scored eight points, one shy of her career high, and posted a career-best and team-high nine rebounds in the Retrievers’ victory over Stony Brook. Making her second career start, Colabella made the most of her career-high 35 minutes, dishing out two assists and adding a block and a steal. She also drained all four of her free throw attempts and went 2-for-5 from the field. The Rookie of the Week award is the first of Colabella’s career. She is the first Retriever to receive the honor since Amanda Robinson on March 6, 2005, and just the third Rookie of the Week from UMBC in the program’s five years in the conference.
Honor Roll: Sophomore guard Carlee Cassidy has been named America East Player of the Week three times this season, making her the first Retriever ever to win the award more than twice in one season. She and Hartford’s Danielle Hood are the only players with three honors this season. Sharri Rohde (2005-06) and Matea Pender (2004-05) are the only other Retrievers to be named America East Player of the Week more than once in a season. Cassidy garnered the honor for Week 1 after averaging 18.0 ppg and shooting 43.5 perecent in two games. The award was the first of Cassidy’s career and marks the first time a Retriever earned a Week 1 conference award since UMBC joined the America East in 2003. Cassidy then was honored again in Week 5 after averaging 19.0 ppg and shooting 46.5 percent from the floor, including 40.0 percent from 3-point range, in three games. Finally, Cassidy nabbed her third award for Week 8 after averaging 22.5 ppg and shooting 48.6 percent from the floor, including 42.1 percent from long distance, in the two games of the Terrapin Classic.
Against the America East: UMBC joined the America East in 2003-04, and the Retrievers are 22-53 in five years of America East play after Saturday’s loss to New Hampshire. All-time, UMBC is 24-53 against its current America East opponents, including games played against them before they were conference rivals, as well as games played in the America East Championships, which do not count as league games. The Retrievers are also 1-5 all-time against former America East member Northeastern, including 1-3 in conference play from 2004-05.
Playing Favorites: The Retrievers face four teams that were picked to finish first in their respective conferences in 2007 preseason polls. George Washington was a unanimous selection in the Atlantic 10, as was Hartford in the America East. Coppin State (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) and Maryland (Atlantic Coast Conference) are also preseason favorites. The Colonials have won six consecutive A-10 titles, while the Eagles have won three MEAC crowns in a row and the Hawks have taken two straight in the America East. In addition, the Retrievers take on four preseason conference players of the year in Rashida Suber of Coppin State (MEAC), Tamera Young of James Madison (CAA), Crystal Langhorne of Maryland (ACC) and Danielle Hood of Hartford (America East).
Shall We Dance: The Retrievers face five teams that advanced to post-season play last season. George Washington (Nov. 9), James Madison (Nov. 16) and Maryland (Dec. 30) all competed in the NCAA Tournament after being ranked in the top 25 at some point during the season, while Hartford and Coppin State both participated in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT). So far UMBC is 0-4 against those teams with losses to George Washington, Coppin State, James Madison and Maryland.
Hot Shot: The Retrievers shot a season-best 54.3 percent from the floor against Towson on Dec. 19, making 25 of 46 field goal attempts. The 25 field goals were one short of a season high, which was set against Mount St. Mary’s on Nov. 24, while the 46 attempts were one more than the season low, which was set on Nov. 28 at NJIT. The .543 shooting percentage was the highest since Jan. 29, 2006, when the Retrievers shot 59.6 percent at Stony Brook. UMBC bested its season-high shooting percentage for the second straight game after shooting 44.4 percent against Northern Iowa on Dec. 9. In addition, the Retrievers’ .467 3-point shooting percentage (7-for-15) against Towson was also a season high, besting the previous high of 44.4 percent against Northern Iowa, as well.
Lighting a Fire: After struggling through the first five games of the season, averaging 4.6 ppg and shooting just 18.8 percent (3-for-16) from 3-point range, senior guard Kristin Drabyn was not in the starting lineup against Mount St. Mary’s on Nov. 24 for the first time since March 10, 2006, snapping her streak of 38 consecutive starts. But against the Mount, Drabyn scored 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 3-for-7 from long distance, off the bench. In the last 15 games, dating to Nov. 24, Drabyn is shooting 43.6 percent and averaging 13.3 ppg, raising her scoring average this season to a season-high 11.1 ppg, the second-best mark on the team and 11th in the America East. In the 13 games since returning to the starting lineup at Loyola on Dec. 3, Drabyn is averaging 13.8 ppg and 2.8 trifectas per game, while shooting 44.2 percent.
Lights Out: After coming off the bench in the previous two games, senior guard Kristin Drabyn was back in the starting lineup against Loyola and certainly put on a show, as she seemingly could not miss early on. Drabyn scored the Retrievers’ first 12 points of the game on four 3-pointers. She had 17 points by halftime, surpassing her previous season high of 15 against Mount St. Mary’s, and she finished with a career-high 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including 6-of-10 from 3-point range. The six trifectas equal her career high, which she set last season against Texas State, and are also the best mark in the America East this season. Drabyn combined with sophomore guard Carlee Cassidy (17) to score 41 of the team’s 56 points in the game (73.2 percent).
Tenacious D: The Retrievers’ defense reached levels against Mount St. Mary’s not seen at UMBC in more than a decade. The Retrievers held the Mountaineers to 40 points, the fewest UMBC has allowed since Feb. 1, 2006, when Binghamton scored 37 in a 63-37 Retriever win. In addition, the Mountaineers’ 11 field goals and .200 shooting percentage are the lowest allowed by UMBC in at least 10 years and not far off the school records of nine field goals (Hood, 1981) and 17.3 percent (Bowie State, 1985). After allowing Towson to shoot 59.3 percent in the first half on Dec. 19, UMBC limited the Tigers to just five field goals and 22.7 percent shooting in the second period. The Retrievers rank third in the America East in field goal defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 38.9 percent from the field.
Cleaning the Glass: Senior guard Morgan Hatten pulled down 15 rebounds against Rider on Nov. 11, the most by a Retriever since Monica Logan posted 16 at St. Francis (Pa.) on Feb. 8, 1999. Hatten tallied 10 rebounds in the first half alone to surpass her previous career high of nine. Hatten’s 6.1 rpg this season lead the Retrievers and are the eighth-most in the America East.
Retrievers Picked Sixth: For the second straight year, the Retrievers were selected to finish sixth in the America East preseason coaches’ poll, equaling the program’s highest billing since joining the America East in 2003-04.
Hatten’s Many Hats: Senior guard Morgan Hatten has proven to be the most versatile player on the Retrievers’ roster, as she has played nearly every position in her four years in a UMBC uniform. Hatten ranks in the top 10 in the conference in rebounding, assists, blocks, steals, minutes played and assist-to-turnover ratio.
Be a Good Sport: Senior guard Kristin Drabyn was the 2007 female recipient of the prestigious America East Sportsmanship Award. Viewed as the best teammate who always has a positive attitude, Drabyn excels on the court as well as in the classroom, as she maintains a 3.36 grade-point average (GPA) while majoring in interdisciplinary studies with a focus in communication and exercise physiology. The president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council, Drabyn is also extremely active in the community, mentoring local elementary school students twice a week, and she and three teammates spent Spring Break 2006 in New Orleans helping Habitat for Humanity with the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.
Fresh Faces: Six newcomers join the Retrievers this season, including five freshmen and one junior college transfer, and each one has made an impact in some way this season. The group makes up the largest recruiting class in head coach Phil Stern’s tenure.
Frazier’s Tribe: Junior guard Chantay Frazier is a full-blooded Choctaw Indian who lives on the Choctaw Reservation in Carthage, Miss. Frazier is believed to be UMBC’s first full-blooded American Indian student-athlete. In addition, based on responses from sports information directors throughout the country, Frazier is one of just 10 Native American women playing Division I basketball.
Banner Night: The Retrievers unveiled their America East Championship banner before the season opener against George Washington with a pregame ceremony that featured the return of many players from the title team.
Retrievers Ink Three: Three high school seniors have signed National Letters of Intent to join the Retrievers in the fall of 2008. Michelle Kurowski is a 5-8 guard from Hicksville High School in Hicksville, N.Y., where she is a three-time All-Nassau County and All-Long Island honoree and was the Most Outstanding Player of the Nassau County playoffs after leading Hicksville to the county championship. Katie Brooks, a 5-9 guard out of Heritage High School in Maryville, Tenn., is the third all-time leading scorer in school history and was named one of the top 25 prospects in the state by Tennesse Hoops Magazine. Erin Brown is a 5-10 guard from Walt Whitman High school in Bethesda, Md., who led her team to the state semifinals last season.