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Women's Basketball Tangles with Maine Sunday Afternoon
Michelle Kurowski ranks among the league leaders in nearly every category
BALTIMORE--In search of its first America East win, the UMBC women's basketball team (6-8, 0-1 AE) takes on conference rival Maine (4-10, 0-2 AE) Sunday afternoon. Tip-off from the Balck Bears' Alfond Arena is set for 12 p.m.
RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC is coming off a heartbreaking 69-66 loss to America East rival Hartford in its conference opener on Wednesday. The Retrievers overcame a 16-point first-half deficit to take a three-point lead in the second half, but senior guard Carlee Cassidy’s potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer hit off the back of the rim. She led all scorers with 21 points, while sophomore center Topé Obajolu tied her season high with 12. UMBC is the only team in the America East with five players ranking among the league’s top 30 scoring leaders, led by sophomore guard Michelle Kurowski, who ranks third in scoring (15.1 ppg) and second in rebounding (7.6 rpg). Cassidy, already UMBC’s all-time leader in 3-pointers, ranks fifth in America East history with 212 career triples and ranks second in the league with 2.4 per game this season. She is also UMBC’s second all-time leading scorer with 1,420 career points, just the 35th America East player ever to score 1,400 points.
BLACK BEAR UPDATE: Maine is 4-10 overall and 0-2 in America East play after an 80-49 loss at Vermont on Thursday. Sophomore forward Samantha Wheeler led the Black Bears with 13 points and seven rebounds. She is the team’s top scorer (11.2 ppg) and rebounder (7.1 rpg). Maine ranks last in the America East in field goal percentage defense (.421). Senior guard Kristin Baker follows with 11.1 ppg and is the Black Bears’ top 3-point threat, shooting 35.1 percent from beyond the arc. Maine was picked to finish eighth in the America East preseason poll.
Who’s Up Next: The Retrievers hit the road again to take on America East rival Albany on Wednesday. The teams split the season series in 2009, with each team winning at home. The Great Danes defeated the Retrievers, 92-80, at SEFCU Arena. Albany holds a 7-5 all-time series advantage.
Inside the Series...
Sunday's game marks the 13th all-time meeting between UMBC and Maine, and the Black Bears hold an 8-4 series advantage. The first meeting occurred on Jan. 24, 2004, a 60-45 victory for the visiting Black Bears. Maine won the first five contests between the two teams before the Retrievers picked up their first victory, a 60-47 win at the RAC Arena, on Feb. 22, 2006. The Black Bears then took the next three meetings, but UMBC has won the last three, including a sweep of the 2009 season series. As America East rivals, the teams have met twice a year since the Retrievers joined the conference in 2003- 04 but never met previously. UMBC’s first-ever victory at Alfond Arena came last season. Senior guard Carlee Cassidy has averaged 18.5 ppg with 17 three-pointers in six contests against the Black Bears, while sophomore forward Erin Brown averaged 16.5 ppg and 7.5 rpg while shooting 53.8 percent in a pair of games last season.
In the teams’ last meeting, Feb. 15, 2009, UMBC defeated Maine, 77-74, at Alfond Arena. Guard Carlee Cassidy scored 22 points and guard Katie Brooks tallied 21 to lead the Retrievers, while forward Erin Brown added 16. Maine forward Brittany Boser led four Black Bears in double figures with a double-double of 21 points and 12 rebounds. The Retrievers led by as many as 10 points in the first half and withstood a Maine comeback in the second stanza for their only road win of the season.
News and Notes...
For Starters: UMBC opens the season with at least six wins in its first 14 games for the second year in a row and the fifth time in six years. The Retrievers’ best-ever record after 14 games while at the Division I level was 8-6, which has occurred five times, most recently last season, while the 1985-86 team went 12-2 in its first 14 games at the Division II level.
Movin’ On Up: With 18 points against Fordham last Tuesday, senior guard Carlee Cassidy became UMBC’s second all-time leading scorer, and she became the 35th player in America East history to score 1,400 points with 21 against Hartford on Wednesday. With 1,420 career points, Cassidy is the third-leading scorer among active players in the America East behind Vermont’s Courtnay Pilypaitis and May Kotsopoulos, and she ranks 35th 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 third in the America East in scoring (15.1 ppg) and second in rebounding (7.6 rpg), and she ranks among the league leaders in nearly every other category, as well. She is one of two players in the conference to rank in the top 15 in points, rebounds and assists, joining Vermont’s Courtnay Pilypaitis. 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: The Retrievers are in the midst of a stretch in which they play eight of nine games on the road. UMBC went 2-4 on its just-completed six-game road trip from Dec. 12-Jan. 3 before returning to the RAC for one game on Wednesday.
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 last Monday, and she now has 212, moving her into fifth place in league history. She has made 14 triples in her last four games. 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 652. 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).
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 63 of 71 games since the start of the 2007-08 season. She and sophomore guard Michelle Kurowski has scored at least 10 points in all but three games this year.
Helping Hand: Junior point guard Michele Brokans ranks 11th all-time at UMBC with 219 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.
Raining Three’s: UMBC ranks second in the America East with 6.4 three-pointers made per game, and three Retrievers - guards Carlee Cassidy (2nd) and Michelle Kurowski (T-11th) and forward Meghan Colabella (T-14th) - rank among the league’s top 15 in that category, all averaging at least 1.2 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.
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 .826 free throw percentage. Senior guard Carlee Cassidy ranks third at .788, while her 320 free throws made are the second-highest toal in school history. Kurowski ranks second in the America East with an 84.1 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, while sophomore center Topé Obajolu, who was just 6-for-20 from the line this season, made all six of her foul shots against Hartford on Wednesday.
Board Games: Sophomore guard Michelle Kurowski ranks second in the America East in rebounding with 7.6 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.
Three’s Company: The Retrievers’ 140-game streak with at least one 3-pointer, which dated to Feb. 5, 2005, was snapped on Dec. 22 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.
Second Helpings: UMBC has trailed at halftime in four of its six victories, including by 13 points at Fordham on Dec. 29. The Retrievers have averaged 34.9 points in the second half compared to 28.4 in the first half and have outscored their opponents, 489-472, in the second stanza.
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 48.0 percent (1,427 of 2,970 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.
Hartford Heartbreaker: Just a week after pulling off a pair of comeback wins at the Fordham Holiday Classic, the Retrievers almost did it again in their America East Conference opener against Hartford. UMBC trailed by as many as 16 points in the first half but rallied to lead by as many as three points in the second period. After falling behind by six with just 24 seconds left, the Retrievers capitalized on Hartford’s missed free throws to pull to within three, but senior guard Carlee Cassidy’s potential game-tying 3-point attempt bounced off the back of the rim.
Classic Cassidy: Senior guard Carlee Cassidy broke out of a three-game slump with two huge games at the Fordham Holiday Classic last 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 last Monday against East Carolina.
Comeback Classic: The Retrievers found themselves in deep first-half deficits in both games of the Fordham Holiday Classic last 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.
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.
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.
Against the America East: UMBC joined the America East in 2003-04, and the Retrievers are 31-70 in six-plus years of America East play. All-time, UMBC is 33-72 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.
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.
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.