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Women's Basketball Heads to Hartford for America East Championships; Fifth-Seeded Retrievers Face Binghamton Friday at Noon
Carlee Cassidy is the America East's leading scorer with 20.8 ppg.
WEST HARTFORD, Conn.--The fifth-seeded UMBC women's basketball team (14-15, 6-10 AEC) takes on fourth-seeded Binghamton (13-16) Friday afternoon in the America East Championship quarterfinals. Tip-off from the University of Hartford's Chase Arena at the Reich Family Pavilion is set for 12 p.m. The game will be available on AmericaEast.com via live streaming in conjunction with PackNetwork and JumpTV.
RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC heads into the America East Championships having lost eight of its last 10 games, including three straight. At 14-15 overall, the Retrievers are under .500 for the first time since being 0-1 on Nov. 15. Still, the 14 wins are tied for the sixth-most in UMBC’s Division I era. UMBC swept the season series from just one conference opponent - Maine - and was swept by Boston U., Hartford and Vermont. The Retrievers split the season series with Binghamton, New Hampshire, Stony Brook and Albany, winning at home each time. The Retrievers’ 6-10 record in America East play ties their second-best conference mark in six years in the league, as they also finished 6-10 in 2007 en route to winning the America East Tournament. The No. 5 seed ties UMBC’s highest-ever finish in the America East, as the Retrievers also took the fifth slot in 2006 with a 7-9 conference record. The Retrievers are coming off a strong performance in the regular-season finale against league champion Boston U., nearly pulling off an upset before falling, 73-65. Junior guard Carlee Cassidy and freshman guard Katie Brooks accounted for 80 percent of UMBC’s offense in the game, with Brooks tying her career high with 28 points and Cassidy pouring in 24 off the bench. The Retrievers lead the league in free throw percentage (.730) but have made 87 percent of their foul shots (87-for-100) over the last five games, including 90.9 percent (20-for-22) in the season finale. Cassidy is the league’s leading scorer at 20.8 ppg. She has reached double figures in all but two games this season and has scored at least 20 points 20 times. She has set a number of single-season school records in 2008-09, including three-pointers (80) and free throws (167), and she also become UMBC’s career three-point leader with 178. The Retrievers have received major contributions from freshmen this year, as guard Michelle Kurowski (13.3 ppg), forward Erin Brown (9.4 ppg) and Brooks (9.4 ppg) are the second-, third-, and fourth-leading scorers on the team.
BEARCAT UPDATE: Binghamton (13-16, 8-8) had its three-game winning streak snapped by an 84-57 loss to Vermont in the regular-season finale. The Bearcats, who were picked to finish sixth in the preseason coaches’ poll, earned the No. 4 seed in the America East Tournament for the third time in the last four years. Last season, fifth-seeded Binghamton lost to No. 4 Albany in the quarterfinals. Binghamton is led by guard Erica Carter, who is averaging 10.2 ppg, and America East Rookie of the Year Andrea Holmes, who is averaging 9.9 ppg and 4.1 apg. In addition, guard Muffy Sadler leads the league in three-pointe percentage (.465), and center Laura Franceski is the top shot blocker with 3.1 bpg. As a team, the Bearcats are the league’s three-point shooting squad at 34 percent.
Who’s Up Next: A win would send UMBC to the semifinals on Saturday at 4 p.m. The Retrievers will take on the winner of the quarterfinal matchup between top-seeded Boston U. and the winner of Thursday night’s Albany/Maine first-round game. A second win would put UMBC in the championship game on Sunday at 6 p.m.
Inside the Series: Today’s game marks the 14th all-time meeting between UMBC and Binghamton, and the Bearcats hold a 9-4 series advantage, having won four of the last five meetings. The teams had never met before the Retrievers joined the America East in 2004. Binghamton took the first two contests before the Retrievers won, 50-46, on Jan. 22, 2005, in Vestal. The teams have split the season series in four of the last five years, including 2009, when each team won on its home court. UMBC and Binghamton met just two weeks ago, on Feb. 28 at the Events Cetner, a 70-50 victory for the host Bearcats. UMBC freshman guard Michelle Kurowski posted her first career double-double with 15 points and a career-high 13 rebounds in the game, while junior guard Carlee Cassidy added 15 points off the bench and sophomore point guard Michele Brokans chipped in five steals and seven rebounds. On the other end of the floor, Binghamton guard Erica Carter led four Bearcats in double figures with 16 points, while center Laura Franceski posted a double-double with 15 points and 15 boards. Guard Andrea Holmes contributed 11 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. In the teams’ first meeting of the season, Jan. 24 at the RAC Arena, Cassidy scored 27 points, while freshman forward Erin Brown posted a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Kurowski added 18 points, and Brokans dished out a career-high 10 assists. Holmes led three Bearcats in double figures with 14 points. Cassidy (21.0), Kurowski (16.5) and Brown (11.5) are all averaging double figures against the Bearcats this season. UMBC and Binghamton met in the America East quarterfinals in 2006, when the No. 4 Bearcats defeated the fifth-seeded Retrievers, 72-66, in overtime.
Game Notes: Today’s game is UMBC’s 30th of the season, marking only the fourth time the Retrievers have played 30 games in one year, but the third time in as many seasons. UMBC is 1-2 all-time in Game 30, with all three contests occurring in the postseason. The Retrievers are 4-1 at neutral sites this year after playing in three early-season tournaments.
UMBC Tournament Notes: UMBC is playing in its sixth America East Conference Championships since joining the league in 2003-04. The Retrievers had never won an America East Tournament game before 2007, 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 team 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 2007, 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. 3 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 its 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. Last season, the sixth-seeded Retrievers fell to No. 3 Boston U., 88-59, in the quarterfinals, as well. UMBC is 6-15 all-time in Division-I tournament play dating to 1991 and 3-4 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. The No. 5 seed in 2009 ties the Retrievers’ highest slot since joining the America East in 2004.
News and Notes...
For Starters: The Retrievers are playing in their 30th game of the season, marking just the fourth time in school history that UMBC has played as many as 30 games but the third time in as many years. UMBC’s 14 wins tie for the sixth-most during the program’s Division I era. In addition, UMBC’s eight non-conference victories this season ties the school’s DI record, while the six America East triumphs are tied for the second-most in six years in the league.
14 and Counting: The Retrievers’ victory over New Hampshire on Jan. 10 was their ninth win of the season, matching their entire win total from the 2007-08 campaign. With 14 victories, UMBC has posted five more triumphs than all of last season, while the Retrievers’ six America East victories surpasses their total of five from 2007-08, as well.
All-Conference: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy was named to the America East All-Conference Second Team, while freshman guard Michelle Kurowski and freshman forward Erin Brown both earned All-Rookie Team honors. After garnering first-team nods last season, Cassidy becomes just the second Retriever to earn all-conference honors in back-to-back years, joining former teammate Sharri Rohde in 2006 and 2007. In addition, Kurowski and Brown give UMBC two rookie honorees for the first time ever. Finally, sophomore forward Meghan Colabella was tabbed to the league’s All-Academic Team.
Rookie Ramblings: UMBC freshmen combined to win eight of 17 Rookie of the Week awards this season, including six straight from Week 2-7. Guard Michelle Kurowski led the way with four honors (Weeks 4-6, 16), while guard Katie Brooks (Weeks 2-3) and forward Erin Brown (Weeks 7, 11) each earned two. Dating to last season, the Retrievers have actually won 10 of the last 19 Rookie of the Week nods, as Meghan Colabella won the award for the final two weeks of the 2007-08 campaign. Kurowski became the first America East freshman to win three straight Rookie of the Week awards since Vermont’s Courtnay Pilypaitis did it five weeks in a row from dec. 24, 2006-Jan. 22, 2007. In addition, the last time one team has dominated the Rookie of the Week award was in 2006-07 when Pilypaitis and teammates May Kotsopoulos and Sofia Iwobi took home 10 honors, including nine of 10 from Nov. 19, 2006-Jan. 22, 2007. However, the six straight for UMBC marks the most consecutive rookie honors for one school in America East history.
Cassidy for Three: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy became UMBC’s all-time record holder for career three-pointers on Feb. 11 against Vermont, and she now has 178 career triples. In addition, she broke UMBC’s career mark for three-point attempts at New Hampshire on Feb. 10 and now has 545. Cassidy also became the fourth Retriever ever to drain 70 treys in a season, and she broke UMBC’s single-season record on Feb. 21 against Stony Brook and now has 80. In addition, Cassidy now ranks second in the America East record books for three-pointers made in a season. Boston University’s Kristi Dini broke the conference mark last week and now has 92. Cassidy is also ninth all-time in the league in career three-pointers.
Cassidy for Three, Part II: The second of junior guard Carlee Cassidy’s career-high six 3-pointers in the season opener at George Washington was the 100th of her career, making her just the seventh player in UMBC history to reach that milestone. In addition, she is the third-fastest Retriever ever to hit the century mark, as she did it in her 60th career game. Jami Lange (39 games) and Ana Goncharova (56 games) are the only other Retrievers to need less than 70 contests to achieve the mark. Cassidy ranks second in the America East and 15th in the NCAA with 2.7 three-pointers made per game.
Charity Case: UMBC leads the America East in free throw percentage at .730 - the third-best mark in school history - but has made 87 percent of its foul shots (87-for-100) over the last five games, including 90.9 percnet (20-for-22) in the season finale against Boston University on March 4. The Retrievers broke the school record with 476 free throws made this season. Junior guard Carlee Cassidy has made 35 of her last 36 foul shots dating to Feb. 15 at Maine, including all 10 against the Terriers and all 13 on Feb. 21 against Stony Brook. Her performance against the Seawolves was the best-ever perfect game from the charity stripe by a Retriever. The previous record of 12-for-12 was set by Kori Kindbom against Florida on Dec. 31, 1986. In addition, the 13 free throws are tied for the second-most ever in a game behind teammate Katie Brooks, who drained 16 earlier this season. Cassidy now holds UMBC’s single-season records for free throws (167) and attempts (204). Her .819 free throw percentage on the season ranks third in the conference and is the fourth-best ever by a Retriever, while her .805 career percentage ranks second all-time at UMBC.
Join the Club: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy became the 16th Retriever ever to score 1,000 points in her career with a three-pointer late in the second half against Albany on Jan. 21, her 77th career game. She is the fourth-fastest Retriever to reach the milestone, as only Tammy McCarthy, Felice Pinkney and Kori Kindbom needed less games to accomplish the feat, and she is also only the third Retriever ever to score her 1,000th point during her junior season, joining McCarthy and Kindbom. Cassidy was the third player to reach the mark in the America East this season, as Vermont’s Courtnay Pilypaitis and Boston University’s Jesyka Burks-Wiley each did so earlier in the 2008-09 campaign. With 24 points against the Terriers in the season finale, Cassidy became the eighth player in school history to score 1,200 points in her career, and she now has 1,218.
Join the Club, Part II: Already just the third Retriever to score 500 points in a season, junior guard Carlee Cassidy became the second to reach the 600-point plateau with 24 against Boston University in the season finale on March 4, and her 603 are just six points behind Tammy McCarthy’s school record of 609, set in 1985-86. Cassidy’s 477 points in 2007-08 rank as the sixth-best mark ever.
Milestone Wins: The Retrievers’ 78-63 victory over Binghamton on Jan. 24 was the 400th win in UMBC women’s basketball history. The Retrievers’ 95-85 win over New Hampshire on Jan. 10 was the 250th in the program’s Division I history.
Special K: Freshman guard Michelle Kurowski is the ninth-leading freshman scorer in the nation with 13.3 ppg. She is moving up UMBC’s all-time lists for freshmen, as she ranks second in free throws (86), fourth in 3-pointers (37) and points (387), fifth in scoring and field goals (132) and sixth in steals (47).
20/20: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy has scored 20 points or more in 20 of UMBC’s 29 games this season, but her career-best six-game 20-point streak was snapped on Feb. 11 against Vermont. She opened the season with five straight 20-point performances, and she put together another five-game streak from Dec. 3-21. Cassidy is the first Retriever to score at least 20 points in at least five consecutive games since Shalayna Johnson accomplished the feat in six straight games from Jan. 11-30, 2003. Cassidy leads the America East and ranks 11th in the nation with 20.8 ppg this season. The Retrievers have recorded 31 20-point performances as a team this season, surpassing last year’s total of 15, while Cassidy has more than doubled her total of eight from last season, as well.
Three’s Company: The Retrievers have made at least one 3-pointer in 130 straight games dating to Feb. 5, 2005, and they have made at least four in 75 games in a row dating to Jan. 17, 2007, at Hartford. UMBC has made 177 three-pointers as a team this season, the sixth-best single-season total in program history. The Retrievers set the school and America East Conference record with 223 triples last year; it was just the second time in school history that a team has reached the 200 plateau and the first time ever for the conference (the Retrievers were in the Northeast Conference when they made 217 three-pointers in 2002-03). Each of the top seven season totals have occurred during head coach Phil Stern’s tenure.
30 Rock: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy (32) and freshman guard Michelle Kurowski (30) became the first pair of UMBC teammates to tally 30 points in the same game on Dec. 3 against Navy. It is believed to be the fifth time in Division I history that that two teammates scored at least 30 points in the same game and the first time since Prudue’s Shereka Wright (34) and Katie Geralds (32) did so at at Iowa on Feb. 10, 2004. Prior to that, it had not happened since 1994.
30 Rock, Part II: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy’s 33 points against Loyola on Dec. 21 were the most by a Retriever since Ana Goncharova also tallied 33 against New Hampshire on Jan. 29, 2005, and ties the sixth-highest single-game total in school history. Cassidy then matched that mark against Boston U. on Jan. 28. With her 31-point performance in the season opener at George Washington and her 32 points against Navy on Dec. 3, Cassidy also became the first Retriever to score 30 points four times in the same season. Tammy McCarthy (3x, 1985-86) and Shalayna Johnson (2x, 2002-03) are the only other Retrievers to tally 30 points more than once in a season. Prior to the GW game, no Retriever had scored 30 points since Goncharova in 2005. Freshman guard Michelle Kurowski is just the third Retriever rookie to score as many as 30 points in a game, joining McCarthy and Jami Lange. UMBC’s five 30-point individual efforts this season are the most ever in school history.
High-Soaring, High-Scoring: The Retrievers have scored 2,029 points this season, the second-highest total in school history and just the second time a UMBC team has reached the 2,000-point plateau but the first in the Division I era. The school record of 2,271 was set in 1985-86.
Helping Hand: Sophomore point guard Michele Brokans ranks fifth among all-time Retriever sophomores with 108 assists on the year. She dished out a career-high 10 assists - including nine in the first half - against Binghamton on Jan. 24, the most helpers by a Retriever since Brittnie Hughes recorded 12 against Texas State on Dec. 29, 2006. The 10 assists also ties the eighth-highest single-game total in UMBC history and marks the 14th double-digit assist effort ever by a Retriever. She ranks fifth in the America East with 3.7 apg on the season, but she is averaging 4.0 apg in 16 conference games. In addition, Brokans ranks second in the league and 34th in the NCAA in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7), as she has committed just 62 miscues while recording 108 assists. For the second year in a row, Brokans is proving it is better to give than to receive, as her 108 helpers are more than double her total field goal attempts on the season (47).
Home Sweet Home: UMBC went 9-4 in games played at the RAC Arena, with its only losses coming on Dec. 21 against Loyola, Feb. 11 against Vermont, Feb. 18 against Hartford and March 4 against Boston U. Five other Retriever teams have won at least nine home games, most recently in 2005-06 (9-3), while the 1993-94 squad was a perfect 10-0.
December to Remember: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy earned honorable mention from the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) for the organization’s National Player of the Month award. Cassidy averaged 23.3 points per game in seven December contests, posting five straight 20-point performances to start the month, including two 30-point efforts. It is the second honorable mention accolade from the WBCA of Cassidy’s career, as she also garnered recognition in December 2007.
Board Games: Freshmen Erin Brown and Michelle Kurowski each grabbed 10 rebounds against Maine on Jan. 17, marking the first time two Retrievers have recorded double-digit caroms in the same game since Amanda Robinson (12) and Sharri Rohde (10) did it on Dec. 2, 2006 at Fairleigh Dickinson.
Cleaning the Glass: Sophomore forward Meghan Colabella grabbed a career-high 20 rebounds on Dec. 29 against Rider, the most boards by a Retriever since Monica Logan pulled down 23 against Mount St. Mary’s on Jan. 28, 1999. It was the 14th 20-rebound effort in UMBC history and tied the program’s 10th-highest single-game total. The last 20-rebound performance in the America East occurred on March 11, 2006, by Boston University’s Jesyka Burks-Wiley. Colabella is averaging a team-best 6.1 rpg on the year, the sixth-best mark in the America East.
Cleaning the Glass, Part II: The Retrievers posted a season-high 56 rebounds on Dec. 29 against Rider, their first 50-carom game in recent memory. The 56 boards are a conference-high this season, as well. UMBC has recorded at least 40 rebounds 12 times in 2008-09 after doing it just three times all last year.
Double-Double Vision: After not posting a double-double for 41 straight games from Feb. 20, 2007-Nov.29, 2008, the Retrievers have recorded nine this season, with four by freshman forward Erin Brown, three by sophomore forward Meghan Colabella, one from freshman center Topé Obajolu and one from freshman guard Michelle Kurowski. Brown’s 22 points and 11 rebounds against UMES on Nov. 30 snapped UMBC’s double-double drought, and Colabella notched the first of her career with 12 points and 11 rebounds in the next game. Obajolu’s first career double-double occurred on Jan. 10 against New Hampshire with 15 points and 11 boards, both career highs, while Kurowski achieved the first of her career on Feb. 28 at Binghamton with 15 points and 13 caroms.
Double Your Pleasure: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy’s 31-game double-figure scoring streak, which dated to Feb. 9, 2008, against Maine, was snapped on Feb. 18 when Hartford held her to just four points, but she has scored at least 10 points in 27 of 29 games this season. Seven Retrievers have posted 81 double-digit perforances this season, including freshman forward Erin Brown, who has scored at least 10 points in 11 of the last 19 games, freshman guard Michelle Kurowski, who has done it in six of eight, and freshman guard Katie Brooks, who has done it in five of eight.
New Kids on the Block: Nine newcomers join the Retrievers this season, including eight freshmen and one junior college transfer. The group makes up the largest recruiting class in head coach Phil Stern’s tenure, surpassing the six new players from 2007-08. Among the group are two 2,000-point scorers and two 1,000-point scorers, as well as a junior college Honorable Mention All-American. Based on responses from sports information directors, the freshman class is tied with Northeastern for the second-largest in the nation. Only Elon (9) has more freshmen on its current roster.
New Kids on the Block, Part II: UMBC’s eight freshmen have accounted for 52.3 percent (1,061 of 2,029 points) of UMBC’s total offense and 44.8 percent (500 of 1,116) of its total rebounds, led by Michelle Kurowski (13.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg), Erin Brown (9.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and Katie Brooks (9.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg). Kurowski and Brown have both started at least 25 games this season and rank second and third on the team in minutes played. As a class, the freshmen have played nearly half (2,793) of the Retrievers’ 5,800 total minutes.
Fresh Faces: With a roster that includes eight freshmen and five sophomores, UMBC also boasts the second-most underclassmen (13) of any Division I school in the country. Only Brigham Young (14) has more. In addition, with just eight years of returning Division I experience (with seniors representing a value of 3, juniors 2 and sophomores 1), UMBC is the sixth-least-experienced team in the country.
New York, New York: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy (Syracuse) and freshman guard Michelle Kurowski (Hicksville), both natives of New York, are providing a stellar one-two punch for the Retrievers, as they rank first and sixth in scoring in the America East. Cassidy and Kurowski each scored more than 2,000 points in their prep careers, ranking among the best all-time in the state of New York. This season they have each tallied 20 or more points in the same game five times, including a pair of 30-point performances against Navy on Dec. 3. The duo has accounted for 48.8 percent of UMBC’s total offense this season (990 of 2,029 points).
Clean Sweep: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy was tabbed America East Player of the Week on Dec. 8, making it a clean sweep for UMBC in Week 4, as freshman guard Michelle Kurowski earned the conference’s top rookie honor that week, as well. It was Cassidy’s fourth career Player of the Week award but first since January 2008.
Honor Roll: Sophomore forward Meghan Colabella was selected to the Marriott Cavalier Classic All-Tournament Team after averaging 12.5 ppg and 14.0 rpg in two games. A month earlier at the Iona Thanksgiving Classic, freshman guard Katie Brooks was named MVP, while junior guard Carlee Cassidy and freshman guard Michelle Kurowski both earned All-Tournament Team honors. Brooks averaged 18.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg and 5.0 apg and shot 56.5 percent. Cassidy scored a tournament-high 19.5 ppg on 44.4 percent shooting and added 3.0 apg and 2.0 spg. Kurowski posted 16.5 ppg and 6.0 rpg while shooting 50 percent from the floor. The previous week, Cassidy and Brooks were both selected to the Seton Hall Basketball Classic All-Tournament Team. Cassidy averaged 22.0 ppg and shot 41.4 percent in two games, while Brooks averaged 21.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.5 apg and 2.0 spg while shooting 50.0 percent.
Against the America East: UMBC joined the America East in 2003-04, and the Retrievers are 31-69 in six years of America East play. All-time, UMBC is 33-66 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 alltime against former America East member Northeastern, including 1-3 in conference play from 2004-05.
Great 80: UMBC has scored at least 80 points in six of its 14 wins this season and is averaging 80.5 ppg in victories. Prior to this year, the Retrievers had not scored 80 points in a game since Feb. 20, 2007, at Vermont and had not posted back-to-back 80-point performances since Feb. 14-17, 1990. The six 80-point performances are the most in a season since UMBC tallied at least 80 points six times in 1989-90.
Nifty 90: With 92 points against UMES on Nov. 30, the Retrievers reached the 90-point plateau for the first time since a 91-89 overtime victory over Charleston Southern on Jan. 16, 1993. With their 95 points against New Hampshire on Jan. 10, the Retrievers have scored 90 points twice in the same season for the first time since 1989-90. The 95 points tied UMBC’s Division I record, as the Retrievers also scored 95 points against Coppin State on Feb. 1, 1988.
Tale of Two Halves: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy did not score in the first half against Western Michigan on Nov. 29, but she tallied 21 points in the second period to keep both her 20-point streak and her double-figure scoring streak alive. However, it was not the best-scoring half by a Retriever this season, as Cassidy posted 23 points in the first period in the season opener at George Washington en route to 31 points in the game. Freshman guard Michelle Kurowski is the only other Retriever to score 20 points in a half this season, as she tallied exactly 20 against Navy on Dec. 3 en route to a career-high 30 points in the game, while Cassidy also notched 21 in the second half at New Hampshire on Feb. 8.
Foul Frenzy: UMBC and Northern Illinois combined to commit an NCAA record 64 fouls on Nov. 21. The previous record of 57 was set by IPFW and Detroit on Jan. 9, 2008. The Retrievers and Huskies combined to go 59-for-81 from the foul line. The Retrievers scored 49 points in the second half but made just nine field goals, as they made 28 free throws in the period.
Charity Case: The Retrievers made a school- and America East Conference-record 41 free throws on Nov. 21 against Northern Illinois and shot 77.4 percent from the line in the game (41-for-53). The previous school record of 35 was set on Feb. 1, 1988, against Coppin State, while the league record of 40 was set by Delaware in 1999. Freshman guard Katie Brooks also set a school record by making 16 (of 22) foul shots. The previous mark of 13 was set twice, by Kori Kindbom (March 1, 1985) and Tammy McCarthy (Jan. 7, 1986). Freshman guard Michelle Kurowski ranks second in the America East with an .819 free throw percentage, while junior guard Carlee Cassidy’s .819 ranks third. The Retrievers finished last season with a school-record .757 shooting percentage from the charity stripe.
Double Duty: Freshman forward Sarah Hill joined the Retrievers during the last week in November. Hill, 6-3, spent the fall season with UMBC’s volleyball team and averaged 1.79 kills and 1.01 blocks per game as a middle blocker and outside hitter. She is the second volleyball player to join the women’s basketball roster this season, as 6-3 freshman center Iman Kennedy will also pull double duty. Kennedy is a middle blocker who averaged 1.32 kpg and 0.97 bpg this season.
Retrievers Picked Fifth: The Retrievers were selected to finish fifth in the America East in a vote of the conference’s nine head coaches, the Retrievers’ highest billing since joining the America East in 2003, eclipsing the sixth-place predictions each of the last two years.
Another Honor for Cassidy: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy was selected to the America East Preseason All-Conference Team. She is the first Retriever ever to receive the honor in UMBC’s six seasons in the America East. Last year, Cassidy became UMBC’s first-ever All-Conference First Team selection since joining the league after she led the league with 17.0 ppg.
Shall We Dance: The Retrievers faced five teams that advanced to the 2008 postseason. George Washington (Nov. 15), Coppin State (Dec. 8) and Hartford (Jan. 13/Feb. 18) competed in the NCAA Tournament, while James Madison (Dec. 18) and Vermont (Jan. 7/Feb. 11) participated in the WNIT.
Bragging Rights: UMBC took on five of the nine Division I schools in the state of Maryland this season. The Retrievers hosted Navy (Dec. 3), Towson (Dec. 6), Coppin State (Dec. 8) and Loyola (Dec. 21) and faced UMES at the Iona Thanksgiving Classic (Nov. 30). UMBC also faced nearby George Washington (Nov. 15) and George Mason (Nov. 19) from the Washington, D.C., area. The Retrievers went 5-2 against those teams. UMBC defeated Towson for the first time since 2002, Coppin State for the first time since 1989 and George Mason for the first time ever.
Retrievers Ink Two: Two players have signed National Letters of Intent to join the Retrievers for the 2009-10 season. Shamika Williams is a 5-8 guard from nearby Catonsville High School who was named the Baltimore County Player of the Year after averaging 17.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg and 4.5 apg as a junior. Kim Browning is a 6-2 guard/forward from Hanover High School in Mechanicsville, Va., who was named one of the top 50 seniors in Virginia by Virginia Preps after averaging 10.5 ppg and 5.1 rpg last season.
Pack the RAC: The Jan. 21 game against Albany was UMBC’s fourth annual Midday Madness, an event that has averaged 1,242 fans since its inception in 2006. The Retrievers welcomed 1,517 fans to the RAC on Wednesday, the arena’s biggest crowd ever for a women’s basketball game, surpassing the 1,312 from the inaugural event. Included in the crowd were more than 900 students from local elementary and middle schools.
Aye-Aye, Captain: Juniors Melissa Book and Carlee Cassidy and sophomore Michele Brokans have been named team captains for the 2008-09 season. Book is the first Retriever to repeat as team captain since Sharri Rohde and Heather Luttrell served as catpains in 2005-06 and 2006-07, while Brokans is the first sophomore in the position since Rohde in 2004-05.
High Water Marks: A number of Retrievers have achieved top single-game highs in the America East this season. Junior guard Carlee Cassidy’s 33 points against Boston U. and Loyola are tied for the top mark in the conference, as are her 11 field goals against the Greyhounds and George Washington. In addition, freshman guard Katie Brooks’ 16 free throws against Northern Illinois and Cassidy’s 13-for-13 effort from the line against Stony Brook are both league bests. As a team, UMBC’s 95 points against New Hampshire tie the conference high, while the Retrievers’ 41 free throws against Northern Illinois, 56 rebounds against Rider and 25 assists against UMES are all league bests.
Speed it Up: In his first six years at the helm, head coach Phil Stern has employed the Princeton Offense, a strategy which emphasizes tempo control, passing and backdoor cuts. However, Stern decided it was time for a change in 2008-09, and the Retrievers will now play uptempo.