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Sixth-Seeded Retrievers Hope to Repeat Magic at America East Women's Basketball Championships; Title Defense Begins with Boston University Friday at 2 p.m.
The Retrievers hope Cinderella's slipper fits again this year.
HARTFORD, Conn.--The sixth-seeded UMBC women's basketball team (9-20, 5-11 AEC) begins its America East title defense Friday afternoon against third-seeded Boston University (18-11, 11-5 AEC). Tip-off from the University of Hartford's Chase Arena at the Reich Family Pavilion is scheduled for 2 p.m. The game will be streamed live by the America East and the Pack Network.
RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC will look to recapture the magic from last year’s Cinderella season, when the Retrievers knocked off the top three teams in the America East to win their first-ever conference title and earn a berth to the NCAA Tournament, where they faced No. 1 Connecticut. The No. 6 seed is the UMBC’s second-highest seed in the America East after taking the fifth slot in 2006. The Retrievers were the 10th seed in their first two America East Tournaments and the seventh seed last season. UMBC had never won an America East Tournament game before last year, losing the first two seasons to Northeastern in the opening round and falling in the 2006 quarterfinals to Binghamton in overtime. UMBC heads into the conference tournament on a three-game losing streak. The Retrievers have not won more than two games in a row this season, but have not lost more than four consecutively. UMBC swept the season series from just one conference opponent - Stony Brook - and was swept by Hartford, Vermont, Boston U. and Binghamton. The Retrievers are coming off a strong performance in the regular-season finale against Hartford, nearly pulling off an upset before falling, 78-68. UMBC is led by sophomore guard Carlee Cassidy, who is averaging 17.0 ppg, but senior guard Kristin Drabyn and junior guard Chantay Frazier are also averaging in double figures. While Cassidy has scored in double digits in 24 of her 27 games this season, Drabyn is riding a five-game double-figure streak and Frazier has averaged 22.0 ppg and 7.5 rpg while shooting a scorching 62.1 percent from the floor in the last two contests. In addition, freshman forward Meghan Colabella has come on strong of late, posting 12.0 ppg in her last five games. The Retrievers lead the America East and rank ninth in the nation in three-point field goals made per game.
TERRIER UPDATE: Boston University (18-11, 11-5) has won four straight and six of its last eight games. The Terriers, who were picked to finish fourth in the preseason coaches’ poll, earned the No. 3 seed in the America East Tournament for the seventh time in school history and are 6-4 in that slot, advancing to the championship game five times and winning twice in those years. Last season, fifth-seeded Boston U. lost to No. 4 Binghamton in the quarterfinals. The Terriers are coming off a 76-67 overtime victory over Albany. Boston U. is led by forward Jesyka Burks-Wiley, who is averaging 12.9 ppg and 6.0 rpg, ranking fifth and eighth in the conference, respectively, while guard Christine Kinneary leads the America East with 6.37 apg and a 2.62 assist-to-turnover ratio. In addition, forward Aly Hinton’s .855 free throw percentage and center Kasey Devine’s 2.15 bpg are both tops in the league. The Terriers are the most prolific scoring team in the league, averaging 69.3 ppg, and their .412 field goal percentage and .773 free throw percentage are also conference bests.
Who’s Up Next: A win would send UMBC to the semifinals on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Retrievers will take on the winner of the quarterfinal matchup between second-seeded Vermont and seventh-seeded New Hampshire. A second win would put UMBC in the championship game on Sunday at 5 p.m.
Inside the Series: Today’s game marks the 12th all-time meeting between UMBC and Boston University, and the Terriers hold an 8-3 series advantage with three consecutive wins. The teams have never met in postseason play. The first meeting occurred on Dec. 27, 1991, a 76-64 victory for BU at the LaSalle Tournament. The teams did not meet again until the Retrievers joined the America East Conference in 2004, and they have met twice a year since. The Terriers won the first two meetings as league rivals, but the teams split the season series in each of the next three seasons before BU swept UMBC this season. The teams met just nine days ago, on March 5 at RAC Arena, a 79-60 victory for Boston U., as the Terriers were lethal from three-point range, making 16 in the game, including 11 of 14 in the first half. Freshman forward Meghan Colabella scored a career-high 19 points and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the floor, including 3-for-3 from long distance and 4-for-4 from the free throw line, while junior guard Chantay Frazier was one rebound shy of her first career double-double with 18 points and nine rebounds. On the other end of the floor, BU guard Christine Kinneary matched Colabella’s output with 19 points on 6-of-6 shooting, as well. The Retrievers led the Terriers by 16 points at halftime on Jan. 30 at Case Gym, but BU outscored UMBC 50-24 in the second half for a 72-62 victory. Frazier scored 21 points in the game, while senior guard Kristin Drabyn and sophomore guard Carlee Cassidy contributed 18 and 17, respectively. BU forward Aly Hinton and guard Amarachi Umez-Eronini each posted double-doubles. Four Retrievers are averaging double figures this season against the Terriers, including Frazier (19.5 ppg), Cassidy (17.0), Drabyn (16.5) and Colabella (10.5).
Game Notes: Today’s game is UMBC’s 30th of the season, marking only the third time the Retrievers have played 30 games in one year, but the second time in as many seasons. UMBC is 1-1 all-time in Game 30, with both contests occurring in the postseason. The Retrievers are 0-1 at neutral sites this year after falling to Richmond at the Terrapin Classic in College Park, Md.
Retrievers Look to Repeat Magic: UMBC is playing in its fifth America East Conference Championships since joining the league in 2003-04. The Retrievers had never won an America East Tournament game before least season, when they made a Cinderella run through the league to win their first-ever conference title and earn a berth to the NCAA Tournament. Seventh-seeded UMBC became the first time in America East history to defeat the top three seeds in the tournament (No. 2 Stony Brook 67-64/Quarterfinals, No. 3 Vermont 67-56/Semifinals, No. 1 Hartford 48-46/Finals) and were the lowest seed ever to win the league championship. The 16th-seeded Retrievers then fell to top-seed Connecticut in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Prior to last season, UMBC had made just one other title game appearance, when first-year head coach Phil Stern led the Retrievers to the 2003 Northeast Conference finals in their last year in the league. UMBC was also seeded seventh that season and took down No. 2 Quinnipiac and No. 2 Monmoth before falling to regular-season champion St. Francis (Pa.) in the finals. Those wins were UMBC’s last conference tournament victories before 2007. UMBC was seeded 10th in the first two years in the America East and lost to seventh-seeded Northeastern both times, 55-30 in 2003-04 and 49-48 in 2004-05. In 2006, the upstart Retrievers took the league by surprise and finished fifth in the conference but lost to fourth-seeded Binghamton, 72-66, in overtime in the quarterfinals. UMBC is 6-14 all-time in Division-I tournament play dating to 1991 and 3-3 in America East Tournament action. Before 2003, the Retrievers’ only tournament victory was in 1994 as members of the Big South, when they were seeded second and defeated No. 7 Coastal Carolina before falling to No. 3 Radford in the semifinals. UMBC has been seeded as high as second twice, in 1991 in the East Coast Conference and in 1994 in the Big South.
News and Notes...
For Starters: The Retrievers are playing in their 30th game of the season, marking just the third time in school history that UMBC has played as many as 30 games but the second time in as many years. The Retrievers’ five America East victories are their third-most in five seasons of conference play.
All-Conference Firsts: Sophomore guard Carlee Cassidy was named to the America East All-Conference First Team, while senior guard Kristin Drabyn was selected to the Third Team and freshman forward Meghan Colabella earned All-Rookie Team honors. The selections represent three firsts for UMBC: Cassidy is the first Retriever to earn first-team honors in UMBC’s five years in the America East; Colabella is also the first Retriever to garner All-Rookie nods in the league; and Drabyn’s inclusion on the third team gives UMBC two all-conference players for the first time since joining the America East in 2003-04. In addition, all three players earned the first all-conference recognition of their careers.
Drabyn for Three: Senior guard Kristin Drabyn broke Shalayna Johnson’s school record of 151 three-pointers with 12:00 remaining in the first half against Albany on Feb. 20. She now has 166 in her career after sinking one against Hartofrd on Saturday. Drabyn also ranks third all-time with a career .347 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 67 triples so far this season are the second-most all-time among Retriever seniors and the fifth-best single-season total in UMBC history. In addition, Drabyn’s career total ranks seventh all-time in America East history.
Cassidy for Three, Too: After sinking three trifectas at Binghamton on Feb. 16, sophomore guard Carlee Cassidy set UMBC’s sophomore record with 61 three-pointers this season. She currently has 64 triples, the sixth-best single-season total in UMBC history, just behind senior guard Kristin Drabyn’s 67. She has also moved into the Retrievers’ all-time top-10 for career trifectas, as she is now seventh with 95, and she ranks fifth with a .322 career 3-point shooting percentage. Cassidy leads the America East with 2.37 per game on the season.
Three’s Company: The Retrievers have made at least one 3-pointer in 100 straight games dating to Feb. 5, 2005, and they have made at least four in each game this season, a 45-game streak which dates to Jan. 17, 2007, at Hartford. UMBC has reached double figures in 3-pointers six times this season, including a season-high 12 against Northern Iowa on Dec. 9, and most recently tallying 10 against Maine on Feb. 9. The Retrievers lead the America East and rank 10th in the nation with 7.38 three-pointers per game this season. In addition, sophomore guard Carlee Cassidy leads the conference and ranks 53rd in the NCAA with 2.37 three-pointers per game, while senior guard Kristin Drabyn is right behind her at second and 54th, respectively, with 2.31. The Retrievers’ 214 three-pointers as a team this season are the second-most in school history, and it is just the second time ever that a team has reached the 200 plateau. At their current pace, the Retrievers could break UMBC’s all-time record of 217 trifectas, set during the 2002-03 season, in the first round of the America East Championships. Each of the top six season totals have occurred during head coach Phil Stern’s tenure.
Colabella Repeats as Top Rookie: Freshman forward Meghan Colabella was named America East Rookie of the Week for the last two weeks of the regular season. She averaged 12.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg and 2.0 spg and shot 57.1 percent over the last two games of the regular season, including a 19-point, six-rebound, four-steal effort against Boston University. A week earlier, Colabella scored 12 points against Vermont in UMBC’s lone game of the week. She added four rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal and was a perfect 6-for-6 at the foul line. Colabella previously earned the accolade on Jan. 14 after scoring eight points and posting a then-career-best nine rebounds in UMBC’s victory over Stony Brook. She is the only Retriever since UMBC joined the America East to receive the award more than once. The last Retriever to win the award was Amanda Robinson in March 2005. Colabella is also one of just three players to earn Rookie of the Week three times this season, joining Maine’s Tanna Ross and New Hampshire’s Denise Beliveau.
Charity Case: Senior guard Kristin Drabyn became UMBC’s career free throw percentage leader on Feb. 22 at New Hampshire, when she went a perfect 7-for-7 at the line, and she is now 110-for-124 (88.7%) in her career. She is the only Retriever with more than 100 field goals made to boast a career mark of 80 percent or better. She has missed just four shots all year for an eye-popping .918 free throw percentage (45-for-49). In addition, when sophomore guard Carlee Cassidy sank her 100th career foul shot at UNH, she moved into second place behind Drabyn on the career free throw percentage list at 79.1 percent. Cassidy has posted a 9-for-9 game from the line this season, against George Washington in the season opener, the best perfect game since Brittnie Hughes hit the same mark on Dec. 1, 2005. She ranks eighth in the America East at 78.9 percent, which currently ranks as the sixth-best single-season mark in school history.
Charity Case, Part II: The Retrievers rank second in the America East and 16th in the NCAA with a .765 free throw percentage, a school record. UMBC has shot better than 90 percent from the charity stripe four times this season when going to the line more than 10 times, and had a perfect 7-for-7 game against New Hampshire on Feb. 2.
Colabella’s Perfect Night: Freshman forward Meghan Colabella was a perfect 6-for-6 from the floor last Wednesday against Boston University, en route to a career-high 19 points and America East Player of the Game honors. She went 3-for-3 from three-point range and 4-for-4 from the foul line. Colabella also added six rebounds, two assists and a career-best four steals.
Hot Shot: UMBC shot 51.1 percent against Hartford on Saturday, marking just the second time this season (at Towson, Dec. 19) that the Retrievers shot better than 50 percent from the floor, and both games resulted in losses. UMBC shot a scorching 59.1 percent (13-for-22) in the second half. Junior guard Chantay Frazier led the way for the Retrievers, making 10 of 13 shots in the game (76.9 %). A game earlier, UMBC set its season high in 3-point field goal percentage at 47.1 percent (8-for-17) agaisnt Boston University. In the last two games, the Retrievers are shooting 49.0 percent from the floor (48-for-98) with three starters shooting 50 percent or better - Frazier (18-29/.621), freshman forward Meghan Colabella (8-14/.571) and senior guard Kristin Drabyn (11-22/.500).
Upset in the Making: The Retrievers have played Hartford close at home in each of the last three seasons but have not been able to come away with the victory. The Hawks pulled out a 56-49 overtime win at RAC Arena in 2006 and won by just four points in 2007 after trailing by as many as 10. Then on Saturday, the Retrievers held a lead with 11:38 to play and were within five points late in the game but could not finish out the victory. UMBC did, however, pull off the upset in the America East finals last season, knocking off the top-seeded Hawks, 48-46, to earn their first-ever conference title.
Double Your Pleasure: Sophomore guard Carlee Cassidy had her 13-game double-figure scoring streak snapped on Feb. 5 at Hartford, when she was held scoreless, but she has reached double digits in 24 out of her 27 contests overall this season, including six in a row. The 13-game streak was the longest by a Retriever since Matea Pender’s 13-gamer during the 2005-06 campaign. Senior guard Kristin Drabyn has scored 10 or more points in 17 of the last 23 games, including the last five. UMBC has had four players score in double figures in a game twice this season - Dec. 9 against Northern Iowa and March 1 against Vermont. Prior to the UNI game, UMBC had not achieved the feat since Jan. 7, 2007.
400 and Counting: Sophomore guard Carlee Cassidy became just the 13th Retriever ever and only the third sophomore to score 400 points in a season at Binghamton. Her 459 points are the seventh-best single-season total in UMBC history.
Top Dawg: Sophomore guard Carlee Cassidy is the America East’s leading scorer with 17.0 ppg. Cassidy has scored in double figures in 24 out of her 27 games this season, but she had her 13-game double-figure scoring streak snapped at Hartford on Feb. 5, when she was held scoreless.
Halfway There: Sophomore guard Carlee Cassidy scored her 500th career point on Feb. 9 against Maine, making her just the ninth Retriever to reach the milestone in her second season during UMBC’s 22-year Division-I history.
20/20: Sophomore guard Carlee Cassidy has posted eight 20-point performances this season, the most by a Retriever since Shalayna Johnson scored 20 or more points 12 times during the 2002-03 campaign. In addition, the Retrievers have recorded 15 20-point efforts as a team this season, with four by senior guard Kristin Drabyn and three by junior guard Chantay Frazier, surpassing last year’s total of 13.
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 17.0 ppg this season, raising her career scoring average to 10.3 ppg. The 12.5 ppg increase from 2006-07 to 2007-08 and her 5.8 ppg increase in her career average are both the largest reported jumps in the NCAA this season. In addition, Cassidy has shot up UMBC’s sophomore record books, as her 459 points this season rank second among the Retrievers’ all-time second-year players.
Stealing the Show: The Retrievers tied a season high with 13 steals at New Hampshire, equaling the mark they set on Nov. 24 against Mount St. Mary’s. Averaging just 6.92 spg on the season, UMBC surpassed that mark in the first half with seven takeaways. Eight different Retrievers had at least one steal in the game, including sophomore guard Carlee Cassidy, whose career-high five were the most since Brittnie Hughes tallied the same number on March 3, 2007, against Hartford. In the last eight games, the Retrievers are averaging 8.1 spg.
Hatten Returns: Senior guard Morgan Hatten returned to the Retrievers on Feb. 9 against Maine, playing in her first game since undergoing arthroscopic surgery on Jan. 25 to remove the torn part of her meniscus. She played nine minutes against the Black Bears in her first action since going down with the knee injury early in the Vermont game on Jan. 20. Expected to miss two to four weeks, Hatten sat out just four games. After averaging a league-best 35.5 minutes per game in the 16 game prior to the injury, Hatten took it slowly in her first six games since returning, playing just 19.5 mpg and averaging 1.8 ppg and 1.8 rpg. But she returned to the starting lineup last Wednesday and played 39 minutes, racking up a season-high six assists, and she has played 39.5 mpg in the last two contests, averaging 4.0 rpg and 4.0 apg in that time.
Oh, Baby: Expected to miss the entire season, senior center Amanda Robinson returned to the UMBC lineup on Jan. 30 at Boston U., 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 11 games back, including three starts, Robinson has averaged 6.0 ppg and 3.4 rpg in 21.7 mpg, including a season-high 15 against Hartford on Senior Night. In her last four games, she is averaging 10.3 ppg and 4.5 rpg in 30.8 mpg. Robinson was the Most Outstanding Player of the 2007 America East Tournament and the Retrievers’ third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder last season.
Block Party: Senior center Amanda Robinson may have missed three-quarters of the season, but she still has an opportunity to make her mark in the UMBC record book. After recording seven blocks this season, Robinson ranks fifth all-time at UMBC with 98 career rejections. Robinson rejected 42 shots last year, the second-best single-season total in school history and a record for UMBC juniors.
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 basketball team at UMBC, joining Carol and Debbie Sybert (1979-80) and twins Karen and Sharon Keadle (1979-82). The siblings were both in the game at the same time for the first time against Vermont.
Helping Hand: All eight Retrievers who played at Boston University on Jan. 30 recorded at least one assist, the first time this season that every player who saw action tallied at least one helper. Senior guard Morgan Hatten currently ranks 13th all-time at UMBC with 193 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 69 assists while shooting just 65 field goal attempts, and her assist total ranks eight among all-time UMBC freshmen. Brokans ranks eighth in the America East with 2.56 apg, while Hatten is ninth with 2.44 apg.
December to Remember: 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.
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 11.4 points in the second period. However, she bucked that trend on Jan. 30 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. For the season, she is averaging 6.4 ppg in the first half and 10.6 points in the second.
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 25-59 in five years of America East play after Saturday’s loss to Hartford. All-time, UMBC is 27-59 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.
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 20 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.
Playing Favorites: The Retrievers faced 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. In addition, the Retrievers took 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 faced 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). UMBC went 0-6 against those teams.
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.
Fresh Faces: Six newcomers join the Retrievers this season - five freshmen and one junior college transfer. The group makes up the largest recruiting class in head coach Phil Stern’s tenure.
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.
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.
What a Pair: Junior guard Chantay Frazier and sophomore guard Carlee Cassidy combined to score 35 of UMBC’s 38 second-half points on Feb. 13 at Stony Brook. The pair also made all 13 of UMBC’s second-period field goals. Frazier scored a career-high 26 points in the game, with 24 coming in the second half, while 11 of Cassidy’s 18 points came in the second stanza.
On Fire: Senior guard Kristin Drabyn shot lights out in the final two games of January, as she made 70 percent of her shots (14-of-20). She went 8-for-11 (72.7 %) at Albany on Jan. 22 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.
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 24 games, dating to Nov. 24, Drabyn is and averaging 13.0 ppg, raising her scoring average this season to 11.6 ppg, the second-best mark on the team and eighth in the America East. In the 22 games since returning to the starting lineup at Loyola on Dec. 3, Drabyn is averaging 13.3 ppg and 2.7 triples per game.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Book Out for Season: Junior guard and team co-captain Melissa Book will sit out the remainder of the 2007-08 season and will apply for a medical hardship waiver to recover a year of eligibility. Book suffered a concussion early in the season and his missed the Retrievers’ last 22 games. Because of her previous history of severe concussions – she suffered four in high school – Book was advised by team physicians not to continue playing this season. A top reserve, Book averaged 6.1 points and 2.0 rebounds in 21.0 minutes per game off the bench through the first seven games of the season. She was shooting a team-best 48.0 percent (12-for-25) from the field and 55.0 percent (11-for-20) from 3-point range at the time of her injury.
From Captain to Coach: Former UMBC standout Sharri Rohde joins the Retrievers on the bench this season as an assistant coach. UMBC’s all-time Iron Woman, who started all 117 games in her career, graduated in 2007 after becoming just the third player in UMBC history with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists in her career. Rohde was named to the America East All-Conference second team last season for the second year in a row.
Aye-Aye, Captain: Seniors Kristin Drabyn and Morgan Hatten and junior Melissa Book are UMBC’s team captains for the 2007-08 season. Book is the first underclassman to serve as a team captain since Sharri Rohde and Heather Luttrell shared the honor as juniors in 2005-06.