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Women's Basketball Opens 2010 with Non-Conference Finale Sunday at Virginia Tech
Sophomore center Tope Obajolu
BALTIMORE--Coming off a pair of wins at the Fordham Holiday Classic earlier this week, the UMBC women's basketball team (6-6) hopes to continue the momentum in its non-conference finale Sunday afternoon at Virginia Tech. Tip-off from Cassell Coliseum is set for 2 p.m.
RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC picked up a pair of wins at the Fordham Holiday Classic, defeating East Carolina, 66-58, on Monday, and the host Rams, 62-56, on Tuesday. The victories snapped a four-game skid. Senior guard Carlee Cassidy broke out of her slump and averaged 22.5 ppg and shot 48.3 percent in the two games, including a season-high 27 points on a career-high seven 3-pointers against the Lady Pirates, while sophomore guard Michelle Kurowski recorded 14.0 ppg and 8.5 rpg, including a double-double against ECU. UMBC is the only team in the America East with five players ranking among the league’s top 30 scoring leaders. Kurowski ranks second in the conference in scoring (16.1 ppg) and rebounding (8.3 rpg). Sophomore guard Katie Brooks is shooting a team-best 54.2 percent (26-for-48) in six December games.
HOKIE UPDATE: Virginia Tech is 9-4 on the season after a pair of wins at the Hilton Garden Classic, including a 56-54 victory over Charlotte on Wednesday. Guard Lindsay Biggs led the Hokies with 19 points in the game and has averaged a team-best 12.0 ppg on the season, while forward Utahya Drye leads the Hokies with 6.4 rpg to go along with 10.2 ppg. Virginia Tech was picked to finish 12th in the Atlantic Coast Conference preseason poll. The Hokies are outscoring their opponents by 9.5 ppg, scoring 65.9 ppg while allowing just 56.5 ppg.
Who’s Up Next: The Retrievers return home for the first time since Dec. 5 for their America East Conference opener against Hartford on Jan. 6. The Hawks hold a 12-2 series advantage and have beaten the Retrievers in four straight meetings. UMBC’s last win occurred in the 2007 America East Championship game, a 48-46 victory.
Inside the Series: Sunday’s game marks just the second-ever meeting between UMBC and Virginia Tech. The teams have not met since 1997, an 89-36 victory for the host Hokies.
News and Notes...
For Starters: UMBC opens the season with a 6-6 record for the first time since 2006-07 and the sixth time in 24 seasons at the Division I level. The Retrievers are 4-1 in the 13th game of the season in those years and 12-11 in Game 13 since 1986-87.
Movin’ On Up: With 18 points against Fordham on Tuesday, senior guard Carlee Cassidy became UMBC’s second all-time leading scorer with 1,391 points in her career. Cassidy is the third-leading scorer among active players in the America East behind Vermont’s Courtnay Pilypaitis and May Kotsopoulos, and she ranks 36th 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.
Special K: Sophomore guard Michelle Kurowski ranks second in the America East in scoring (16.1 ppg) and rebounding (8.3 rpg), and she ranks among the league leaders in nearly every other category, as well. She is one of three players in the conference to rank in the top 15 in points, rebounds and assists, joining Vermont’s Courtnay Pilypaitis and Stony Brook’s Kirsten Jeter. 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: Today’s game at Virginia Tech is the last 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.
Classic Cassidy: Senior guard Carlee Cassidy broke out of a three-game slump with two huge games at the Fordham Holiday Classic earlier this week. After averaging just 7.0 ppg and shooting 28 percent with just one 3-pointer in the three previous games, Cassidy averaged 22.5 ppg and shot 48.3 percent with nine triples in two contests at Fordham, including a season-high 27 points with a career-best seven 3-pointers on Monday against East Carolina.
Comeback Classic: The Retrievers found themselves in deep first-half deficits in both games of the Fordham Holiday Classic earlier this week, only to rally for a pair of come-from-behind victories. UMBC was down by as many as 13 points against East Carolina and trailed Fordham by as much as 15. The Retrievers’ comeback against the Rams was perhaps the most impressive: Down by 13 at halftime, UMBC opened the second stanza with an 18-2 run over the first six minutes to take its first lead of the game. The Retrievers shot better than 50 percent in the second half of both contests, including a sizzling 59.1 percent against ECU. Against Fordham, senior guard Carlee Cassidy scored 16 of her 18 points in the second period, while sophomore guard Michelle Kurowski tallied all 12 of her points in the second stanza.
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 62 of 69 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.
Cassidy for Three: Already UMBC’s all-time record holder for career 3-pointers, senior guard Carlee Cassidy became just the seventh player in America East history to drain 200 triples in her career with the second of her career-high seven 3’s against East Carolina on Monday, and she now has 207. Cassidy broke UMBC’s all-time mark on Feb. 11, 2009, against Vermont. In addition, she broke UMBC’s career mark for 3-point attempts at New Hampshire on Feb. 10, and now has 637. 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).
Raining Three’s: UMBC ranks second in the America East with 6.6 three-pointers made per game, and three Retrievers - guards Carlee Cassidy (2nd) and Michelle Kurowski (11th) and forward Meghan Colabella (T-13th) - 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 originally 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 sophomore forward Erin Brown. UMBC drained 10 three-pointers for the third time this season on Dec. 12 at Coppin State, with Brown, Colabella and Kurowski hitting three each.
Helping Hand: Junior point guard Michele Brokans ranks 12th all-time at UMBC with 212 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.
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.
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.
Board Games: Sophomore guard Michelle Kurowski ranks second in the America East in rebounding with 8.3 rpg. She 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 .825 free throw percentage. Senior guard Carlee Cassidy ranks third at .788, while her 316 free throws made are the second-highest toal in school history. Kurowski ranks second in the America East with an 83.9 free throw percentage this season. In addition, junior guard Chelsea Barker has made 24 of her last 26 free throw attempts dating to last season, including 16 of 17 (.941) in 2009-10.
Against the ACC: UMBC has not had success against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents in the past. The Retrievers have never won in 16 previous meetings against current ACC teams. UMBC also faced ACC member Virginia in the season opener.
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. The pair had combined to score just 37 points in the previous five games.
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 seven of UMBC’s eight double-doubles this season, with sophomore center Topé Obajolu notching the other.
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.
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.
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 48.3 percent (1,380 of 2,860 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.
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.
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.