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Retrievers Conclude 2009 at Fordham Holiday Classic
Freshman Kim Browning
BALTIMORE--The UMBC women's basketball team (4-6) closes out the 2009 portion of its schedule at the Fordham Holiday Classic Dec. 28-29 in Bronx, N.Y. The Retrievers will face an East Carolina team (10-1) that is receiving votes in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll on Monday at 3 p.m. and will take on the host Rams (6-5) on Tuesday at 1 p.m.
RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC dropped its fourth straight game last Tuesday, falling at No. 21 West Virginia, 79-45, to fall to 4-6 on the season. Sophomore guard Katie Brooks led the Retrievers with 11 points, while senior guard Carlee Cassidy netted 10 and junior forward Meghan Colabella posted eight points and a team-high eight rebounds. UMBC is the only team in the America East with five players ranking among the league’s top 30 scoring leaders. Sophomore guard Michelle Kurowski ranks second in the conference in scoring (16.5 ppg) and rebounding (8.3 rpg).
PIRATE UPDATE: East Carolina has won three straight after a 63-60 victory over South Florida at the USF Shootout last Sunday to improve to 10-1 on the season. Guard Ashley Clarke leads the Lady Pirates with 13.5 ppg. ECU, which is receiving votes in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches’ Poll, boasts the top offense in Conference USA, averaging 74.8 ppg with a .483 field goal percentage.
RAM UPDATE: Fordham is 6-5 after a 63-47 loss at Manhattan last Tuesday. Forward Randall Hurst leads four Rams in double figures with 15.1 ppg on the season, which ranks fourth in the Atlantic-10 Conference, while forward Tiffany Stokes is the team’s top rebounder with 7.9 rpg, which ranks fifth in the league. The Rams are averaging 63.2 ppg and shooting 41.2 percent from the floor. Fordham was picked to finish last in the A-10 preseason poll.
Who’s Up Next: The Retrievers close out non-conference play with a trip to Blacksburg, Va., to take on ACC foe Virginia Tech on Jan. 3, the teams’ first meeting since 1997. UMBC then returns home for the first time since Dec. 5 to host Hartford in the America East Conference opener on Jan. 6.
Inside the Series: Monday’s game marks the first-ever meeting between UMBC and East Carolina. Tuesday’s game is the third all-time meeting between UMBC and Fordham, but the teams have not met since the 1995 UMBC Retriever Invitational, a 66-57 victory for the visiting Rams. A year earlier, Fordham defeated UMBC, 64-42, in the Bronx.
News and Notes...
For Starters: UMBC opens the season with a 4-6 record for the third time in four years and the seventh time in 24 seasons at the Division I level. The Retrievers are 1-5 in the 11th game of the season in those years and 7-16 in Game 11 since 1986-87.
Going Up: Senior guard Carlee Cassidy ranks fourth all-time at UMBC with 1,346 points in her career, 29 behind Missy Quille (’94) for third. Cassidy is the third-leading scorer among active players in the America East behind Vermont’s Courtnay Pilypaitis and May Kotsopoulos, and she ranks 41st overall. Cassidy became the 16th Retriever ever to score 1,000 points in her career on Jan. 21, 2009, against Albany, 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 is on pace to finish her career as UMBC’s second all-time leading scorer behind McCarthy, who scored 2,063 points from 1983-87.
Special K: Sophomore guard Michelle Kurowski ranks second in the America East in scoring (16.5 ppg) and rebounding (8.3 rpg), and she ranks among the league leaders in nearly every other category, as well. She is the only player in the conference to rank in the top 10 in points, rebounds and assists. Kurowski has been named America East Player of the Week twice this season (Weeks 1, 3), making her the first Retriever to win the award more than once in a season since teammate Carlee Cassidy won the award three times in 2007-08. Kurowski also scored her 500th career point on Nov. 29 at Bucknell, making her just the 10th Retriever to reach the milestone as a sophomore during UMBC’s 24-year Division I history.
Hit the Road, Jack: This week’s games at the Fordham Holiday Classic are the fourth and fifth of the Retrievers’ month-long six-game road trip, which began Dec. 12 at Coppin State. They return home for the America East opener against Hartford on Jan. 6.
Road Warriors: With victories at Towson and Bucknell the last week in November, the Retrievers won back-to-back road games for the first time since defeating Fairleigh Dickinson and Longwood Dec. 2-9, 2006. Last season, despite winning four neutral site games, UMBC won just one road contest, defeating Maine at Alfond Arena.
Double Your Pleasure: Four Retrievers have scored in double figures five times this season, including a three-game streak from Nov. 15-24. Five Retrievers reached double figures on Nov. 15 agaisnt UMES for the first time since Nov. 26, 2006, against NJIT. Senior guard Carlee Cassidy has reached double digitis in 61 of 68 games since the start of the 2007-08 season; she and sophomore guard Michelle Kurowski have scored at least 10 points in all but two games this year.
Raining Three’s: UMBC ranks second in the America East with 6.5 three-pointers made per game, and four Retrievers - guards Carlee Cassidy (3rd) and Michelle Kurowski (12th) and forwards Meghan Colabella (T-9th) and Erin Brown (14th) - rank among the league’s top 15 in that category, all averaging at least 1.3 triples per game. The Retrievers tied a school record with 14 three’s on Nov. 15 against UMES, a mark set Jan. 17, 2004, at Northeastern. Cassidy, Kurowski and Colabella combined to make 12 of the 14 three-pointers, as each nailed four, marking career highs for both Colabella and Kurowski. The Retrievers then made 11 on Nov. 24 at Towson, including eight in the second half on just 11 attempts, with a career-high four from Brown. UMBC drained 10 three-pointers for the third time this season last Saturday at Coppin State, with Brown, Colabella and Kurowski hitting three each.
Cassidy for Three: Senior guard Carlee Cassidy became UMBC’s all-time record holder for career 3-pointers on Feb. 11, 2009, against Vermont, and she now has 198 in her career, which ranks seventh all-time in the America East. In addition, she broke UMBC’s career mark for 3-point attempts at New Hampshire on Feb. 10, and now has 618. Cassidy also set UMBC’s single-season 3-point record at 80 in 2008-09 and was one of three players to break the America East record for 3-pointers made in a season last year, along with Boston University’s Kristi Dini (109) and Albany’s Britney McGee (83).
Three’s Company: The Retrievers 140-game streak with at least one 3-pointer, which dated to Feb. 5, 2005, was snapped last Tuesday at West Virginia, when they went 0-for-10 from long distance. Each of the top seven single-season totals in UMBC history have occurred during head coach Phil Stern’s tenure.
Helping Hand: Junior point guard Michele Brokans ranks 12th all-time at UMBC with 200 career assists, whch ranks as the fifth-most among active players in the America East. She is the only underclassman among the conference’s top five.
Board Games: Sophomore guard Michelle Kurowski ranks second in the America East in rebounding with 8.3 rpg and junior forward Meghan Colabella ranks fifth with 7.4 rpg. Kurowski pulled down a career-best and team season-high 14 rebounds against UMES on Nov. 15, and sophomore center Topé Obajolu matched the mark against Navy on Dec. 2.
Charity Case: Sophomore guard Michelle Kurowski made 11 straight free throws to start the season, and she now ranks second all-time at UMBC with a career .822 free throw percentage. Senior guard Carlee Cassidy ranks third at .786, while her 308 free throws made are the second-highest toal in school history. Kurowski ranks fourth in the America East with an 83.3 free throw percentage this season.
Unusual Suspects: Down to just eight players in uniform after injuries to forwards Meghan Colabella and Erin Brown, the Retrievers got major contributions from some unlikely sources on Dec. 2 against Navy. Junior guard Chelsea Barker had a perfect shooting night, going 4-for-4 from the floor, including 3-for-3 from long range, and 4-for-4 from the foul line, tying her career high with a team-best 15 points. In addition, sophomore center Topé Obajolu posted her second career double-double with 12 points and a career-high 14 rebounds, tying the single-game best by a Retriever this season.
Three For All: Guards Katie Brooks, Carlee Cassidy and Michelle Kurowski combined to score all 38 of UMBC’s first-half points at Bucknell on Nov. 29 as the Retrievers opened a 13-point halftime lead. Kurowski led all scorers with 17 points, while Cassidy had 11 and Brooks added 10. The trio also combined to make six 3-pointers in the period.
Cardiac Kids: After opening the season with three straight games with double-digit scoring margins, the Retrievers ended November with a pair of close ones. UMBC fought back from a 10-point first-half deficit to defeat Towson, 74-72, on a last-second layup by senior guard Carlee Cassidy on Nov. 24. The score was tied 10 times, including with six seconds left. Then on Nov. 29 at Bucknell, after leading by 13 points at halftime, the Retrievers staved off a furious Bison comeback to hold on for a 68-63 win. Bucknell tied the game at 60 with less than three minutes remaining, but sophomore guard Michelle Kurowski scored UMBC’s final eight points.
Double-Double Vision: Junior forward Meghan Colabella posted her second straight double-double and the fifth of her career with 15 points and 10 rebounds against UMES on Nov. 15, while sophomore guard Michelle Kurowski notched her second career double-double with 22 points and a career-high 14 boards. It was the first time two Retrievers tallied double-doubles in the same game since Sharri Rohde and Amanda Robinson accomplished the feat on Dec. 2, 2006, at Fairleigh Dickinson. The duo has combined for six of UMBC’s seven double-doubles this season, with sophomore center Topé Obajolu notching the other. Kurowski has tallied a double-double in back-to-back games.
Century Mark: The Retrievers set a school Division I record for points scored against UMES on Nov. 15 with 102 points. The last time a UMBC team tallied at least 100 points was Nov. 29, 1985, in a 108-76 victory at Shippensburg, while an America East team had not scored 100 points in a game since Drexel posted 101 at Vermont on Feb. 8, 2001. The Retrievers also scored a school-record 59 points in the second half, eclipsing the 57 points scored in a period twice, both occurring during the 1985-86 season. In addition, UMBC’s 37-point margin of victory was its largest since defeating Salisbury State, 94-46, on Jan. 12, 1991.
Dishing it Out: UMBC set a new school record for assists in a game with 28 against UMES on Nov. 15. Sophomore guard Michelle Kurowski led the way with a career-high seven helpers, while sophomore guard Katie Brooks dished out six and senior guard Carlee Cassidy added five. In all, nine out of 10 players to see action tallied at least one assist.
High-Water Marks: The Retrievers set a number of America East single-game highs for the 2009-10 campaign in their contest against UMES on Nov. 15, including points (102), field goals (39), field goal percentage (.557), 3-pointers (14) and assists (28). In addition, their .583 three-point percentage and 54 rebounds agaisnt the Hawks rank as the second-best marks in the league so far this season.
To the Limit: UMBC gave 14th-ranked Virginia all it could handle in the season opener on Nov. 13 in front of a record crowd of 1,604 at the RAC. The game was tied, 34-34, at halftime, and the Retrievers led, 48-47, at the 7:52 mark before the Cavaliers used a 13-0 run to take the lead for good and eventually post a 68-57 victory.
Against Conference USA: UMBC has very little history against current members of Conference USA, as the Retrievers have only faced Alabama-Birmingham and Texas-El Paso once each, with both games resulting in UMBC losses.
Against the A-10: UMBC has not had much success against current Atlantic 10 Conference opponents in the past. The Retrievers are just 2-21 all-time against the league’s member institutions. UMBC’s two wins came against Richmond in 1992 and Temple in 1994. Fordham is the Retrievers’ second A-10 opponent this season, as they faced Saint Joseph’s on Nov. 21 in Philadelphia, a 77-55 loss.
Bragging Rights: UMBC took on five of the other eight Division I schools in the state of Maryland this season. The Retrievers hosted UMES (Nov. 15) and Navy (Dec. 2) and traveled to Towson (Nov. 24), Coppin State (Dec. 12) and Loyola (Dec. 20). UMBC went 3-2 against its in-state rivals with a 102-65 victory over UMES, a 74-72 win at Towson, a 59-51 triumph over Navy, a 55-54 loss at Coppin State and an 81-74 loss at Loyola.
Retrievers Picked Sixth: For the third time in the last four years, UMBC was picked to finish sixth in the America East preseason coaches poll. Defending champion Vermont was selected to win the conference, narrowly edging perennial favorite Hartford.
Another Honor for Cassidy: Senior guard Carlee Cassidy, who led the America East in scoring for the second year in a row at 20.4 ppg last season, was selected to the league’s preseason all-conference team. She joins Hartford’s Erica Beverly and Vermont’s Courtnay Pilypaitis as repeat selections, as all three garnered preseason nods in 2008-09, as well.
New York State of Mind: Guards Carlee Cassidy (Syracuse) and Michelle Kurowski (Hicksville), both natives of New York, have provided a stellar one-two punch for the Retrievers the last two years, accounting for 47.7 percent (1,307 of 2,732 points) of UMBC’s total offense since the start of the 2008-09 campaign and ranking as the Retrievers’ top two leading scorers both seasons. 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.
Back in the Mix: The Retrievers return 93.9 percent (1,955 of 2,083 points) of their scoring offense from last season, led by senior guard Carlee Cassidy’s school-record 613 points. UMBC scored more than 2,000 points for just the second time in school history but the first in the Division I era. The Retrievers scored a school-record 2,271 points in 1985-86. In addition, UMBC’s 69.4 points per games were the second-best mark in program history behind the 1985-86 squad’s 78.3 ppg and ranked second in the America East.Follow the Retrievers: UMBC fans can now keep up with their favorite teams in a number of new ways, as UMBC Athletics is now on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter. Fans can also follow head coach Phil Stern on Twitter, as well as in his new blog, PHILosophy, while the Retrievers also have the UMBC Dawg Blog.
Retrievers All-Access: All of the Retrievers’ home games will be video streamed through UMBC’s multimedia website, www.UMBCRetrievers.tv. An All-Access Pass, available for $59.95, gives fans the opportunity to watch not only all the live coverage of various UMBC home athletic events, but also premium content not available to view without the All-Access Pass. The premium content includes any and all UMBC player and coaches interviews, highlights and an in-depth archive section of all video available on UMBCRetrievers.TV. Single-game subscriptions for all live events will be available throughout the season for $4.95.