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Women's Basketball Prepares for America East Dog Fight at Boston U. Sunday
Freshman forward Kim Browning
BALTIMORE--After three straight home games, the UMBC women's basketball team (8-11, 2-4 AE) heads back on the road to take on America East rival Boston University Sunday afternoon. Tip-off from the Terriers' Case Gym is set for 2 p.m.
RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC dropped its third straight game on Thursday, falling to No. 24 Vermont, 79-51. Junior guard Chelsea Barker was the only Retriever in double figures with 10 points, while junior forward Meghan Colabella posted a team-high eight rebounds. Sophomore center Topé Obajolu is shooting 54.5 percent from the floor during conference play and ranks second in the league with a .917 free throw percentage in six America East games. Sophomore guard Michelle Kurowski leads the Retrievers in scoring (14.1 ppg) and rebounding (6.4 rpg). Senior guard Carlee Cassidy, already UMBC’s all-time leader in 3-pointers, is tied with current Maine head coach Cindy Blodgett for fourth in America East history with 219 career triples and ranks second in the league with 2.2 per game this season. The Retrievers rank second in the conference in shooting percentage (.396) and 3-pointers made per game (6.3).
TERRIER UPDATE: Boston U. is 9-9 overall and 5-1 in America East play after suffering its first conference loss of the season on Thursday, falling to Hartford, 52-44. Freshman guard Caitlynn Moran led the Terriers with 11 points in the game. Three Terriers are averaging double figures in scoring on the season, led by freshman guard Chantell Alford, the reigning America East Rookie of the Week, who has tallied 15.1 ppg, which ranks second in the conference. She also leads the league in steals (2.9 spg). Senior forward Aly Hinton paces the Terriers with 6.1 rpg and leads the America East in free throw percentage (.884). Boston U. is the league’s second-best scoring offense, averaging 66.6 ppg. The Terriers were picked to finish fourth in the America East preseason poll.
Who’s Up Next: The Retrievers return home on Thursday when they host Stony Brook. The teams split the 2009 regular-season series, with each team winning at home, but the Seawolves hold an 8-5 all-time series advantage. Stony Brook, which was picked to finish seventh in the America East preseason poll, is currently 5-13 overall and 3-3 in America East play and will travel to Vermont today before taking on the Retrievers.
Inside the Series...
Sunday's game marks the 15th all-time meeting between UMBC and Boston University, and the Terriers hold an 11-3 series advantage with six consecutive wins. The first meeting occurred on Dec. 27, 1991, a 76-64 victory for BU at the La Salle 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 each of the next three years before BU swept UMBC in each of the last two seasons. UMBC is 2-4 all-time at Case Gym. UMBC senior guard Carlee Cassidy is averaging 16.8 ppg in six career games against the Terriers.
In the teams’ last meeting, March 4, 2009, the Retrievers pushed the league-leading Terriers to the limit, but Boston U. prevailed, 73-65, at the RAC. UMBC guard Katie Brooks led the Retrievers with 28 points, while guard Carlee Cassidy added 24 on four 3-pointers and a perfect 10-for-10 effort at the foul line. BU forward Jesyka Burks-Wiley posted 18 points and eight rebounds, while guard Kristi Dini scored 19 points on five triples and added five assists.
News and Notes...
For Starters: UMBC opens the season with at least eight wins in its first 19 games for the second year in a row and the fourth time in five years. The Retrievers’ best-ever record after 19 games while at the Division I level was 12-7, which they accomplished last season, while the 1985-86 team went a program-best 14-5 in its first 19 games at the Division II level.
Movin’ On Up: With 18 points against Fordham on Dec. 29, 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 Jan. 6. With 1,478 career points, Cassidy is the third-leading scorer among active players in the America East behind Vermont’s Courtnay Pilypaitis (1,756) and May Kotsopoulos (1,540), and she ranks 30th 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.
Pack the RAC: Thursday’s game against Vermont was UMBC’s fifth annual Midday Madness, an event that has averaged 1,398 fans since its inception in 2006. The Retrievers welcomed 2,023 fans to the RAC on Thursday, the arena’s biggest crowd ever for a women’s basketball game, surpassing the 1,604 that witnessed UMBC host 14th-ranked Virginia in the 2009-10 season opener. Included in Thursday’s crowd were more than 1,300 students from local elementary and middle schools.
Special K: Sophomore guard Michelle Kurowski ranks fourth in the America East in scoring (14.1 ppg) and is 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.
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 Feb. 28, and she now has 219, tied with current Maine head coach Cindy Blodgett for fourth-most in league history. 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 677. 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 six times this season, including a three-game streak from Nov. 15-24, but Monday’s game against Binghamton was the first time UMBC had accomplished the feat since Dec. 20 at Loyola. 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 66 of 76 games since the start of the 2007-08 season. She has scored at least 10 points a team-best 14 times this year.
Helping Hand: Junior point guard Michele Brokans ranks 11th all-time at UMBC with 231 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: UMBC picked up its fifth road win of the season last Wednesday at Albany, its most since winning five games on the road in the 2006-07 America East championship campaign. The Retrievers have not won more than five road games since 1998-99, when they won a school Division I-record eight contests away from home. Last season, despite winning four neutral site games, UMBC won just one road contest, defeating Maine at Alfond Arena.
Road Warriors, Part II: With victories at Towson and Bucknell Nov. 24-29, the Retrievers won back-to-back road games for the first time since defeating Fairleigh Dickinson and Longwood Dec. 2-9, 2006. UMBC then matched the feat with wins at America East rivals Maine and Albany Jan. 10-13.
Charity Case: Sophomore guard Michelle Kurowski ranks second all-time at UMBC with a career .817 free throw percentage. Senior guard Carlee Cassidy ranks third at .786, while her 327 free throws made are the second-highest toal in school history. Kurowski ranks fourth in the America East with an 81.6 free throw percentage this season. In addition, junior guard Chelsea Barker has made 29 of her last 32 free throw attempts dating to last season, including 21 of 23 (.913) in 2009-10, while sophomore center Topé Obajolu, who was just 6-for-20 from the line in the first 13 games this season, has made 22 of her last 24 attempts over the last five games, including a perfect 6-for-6 effort against Hartford on Jan. 6.
Second Helpings: UMBC has trailed at halftime in five of its eight victories, including by 13 points at Fordham on Dec. 29. The Retrievers have averaged 35.0 points in the second half compared to 27.7 in the first half and have outscored their opponents 10 times in the second stanza and by a combined 665-657 overall. UMBC has also scored more points in the second half than the first 13 times and has posted a higher shooting percentage 13 times, including better than 50 percent in seven games.
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 47.1 percent (1,541 of 3,274 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.
Tip-Top Topé: Sophomore center Topé Obajolu has broken out since America East play began Jan. 6. In six league games, Obajolu is averaging 11.7 ppg - the second-best mark on the team - and shooting a team-best 54.5 percent from the floor and 91.7 percent from the foul line, and she leads the team with 5.5 rpg and 15 blocked shots. In 13 non-conference games, she scored 67 points (5.2 ppg), but she has already matched that total in the last six contests with 70 points. Obajolu scored a career-high 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting against New Hampshire last Saturday.
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.
Super Sophs: UMBC’s four sophomores combined to score 26 of the Retrievers’ 31 points in the second half at Albany last Wednesday and amassed 51 of UMBC’s 62 total points and 18 of the team’s 23 field goals in the game. Guard Katie Brooks led the way with a season-high 16 points, while center Topé Obajolu tied her career best with 15. Forward Erin Brown added 12 points, while guard Michelle Kurowski netted eight.
Slump Buster: Sophomore forward Erin Brown scored 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting at Maine last Sunday, breaking out of a six-game slump in which she averaged just 3.7 ppg and shot 32.1 percent. It was her first double-figure scoring effort since Dec. 12 at Coppin State.
Three Musketeers: Just five Retrievers found the basket last Sunday at Maine, with three players - guards Carlee Cassidy (19) and Michelle Kurowski (17) and forward Erin Brown (15) - scoring 51 of UMBC’s 61 points in the game. The trio shot 52.5 percent (21-for-40) from the floor and made all seven of UMBC’s 3-pointers, while the rest of the team was just 2-for-13 (15.4 percent) from the field. The trio combined to score 29 of UMBC’s 31 points in the first half. Sophomore center Topé Obajolu (6) and sophomore guard Katie Brooks (4) were the only other Retrievers to score in the game.
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 on Jan. 6. 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 slump with two huge games at the Fordham Holiday Classic Dec. 28-29. 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 Dec. 28 against East Carolina.
Comeback Classic: The Retrievers found themselves in deep first-half deficits in both games of the Fordham Holiday Classic Dec. 28-29, 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.
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.
Raining Three’s: The Retrievers tied a school record with 14 three’s on Nov. 15 against UMES, a mark originally set Jan. 17, 2004, at Northeastern. Senior guard Carlee Cassidy, sophomore guard Michelle Kurowski and junior forward Meghan 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.
Against the America East: UMBC joined the America East in 2003-04, and the Retrievers are 33-73 in six-plus years of America East play. All-time, UMBC is 35-75 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.
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. Seven of UMBC’s eight wins this season have been by nine points or less.
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 nine double-doubles this season, with sophomore center Topé Obajolu senior guard Carlee Cassidy notching the others. Cassidy had never reached double-digit rebounds in the first 103 games of her career before grabbing 11 boards at Maine on Jan. 10.
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 37-point margin of victory agaisnt the Hawks ranks 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.
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.
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.