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Retrievers Visit George Mason in Pre-Thanksgiving Showdown Tuesday Evening
Senior guard Michele Brokans
BALTIMORE--The UMBC women's basketball team (1-3) looks to get back on track Tuesday when it visits George Mason (1-2). Tip-off at the Patriot Center is set for 7 p.m.
RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC is coming off a 64-50 loss to Saint Joseph’s Saturday evening at the RAC. Junior center Topé Obajolu led the Retrievers with 17 points, one shy of her career high, while junior forward Erin Brown added 10 points, reaching double figures for the fourth straight game to start the season. UMBC recorded a season-high 13 steals in forcing 27 Hawk turnovers but could not capitalize, scoring just 11 points off miscues. The Retrievers’ shooting woes continued, as they made just five of 29 attempts in the first half and finished at 25.8 percent for the game. Despite shooting a leauge-worst 30.0 percent from the floor on the season, UMBC ranks among the America East’s leaders in defense, holding opponents to a .341 field goal percentage and 59.5 points per game, the second and third-best marks, respectively.
PATRIOT UPDATE: George Mason is 1-2 on the season after a 65-59 road loss to Wichita State on Saturday. Guard Taleia Moton scored a game-high 17 points, while forward Amber Easter contributed 16 points and eight rebounds. Moton is the Patriots’ leading scorer with 13.3 points per game this season, while forward Angelee LaTouche is averaging 10.0 rebounds per contest. George Mason was picked to finish 10th in the Colonial Athletic Association preseason poll.
Who’s Up Next: The Retrievers travel to New Rochelle, N.Y., this weekend for the Iona Thanksgiving Classic. UMBC will face Toledo on Friday and Brown on Saturday. The Rockets are 1-2 on the season after a 73-69 loss to Missouri State on Saturday and will travel to Cleveland State on Tuesday before taking on UMBC, while the Bears are also 1-2 after defeating UMBC’s America East rival New Hampshire, 66-54, on Saturday and will host Bryant on Tuesday before heading to New York. The Retrievers have never faced Toledo and have not faced Brown since 1991, a 67-64 win in the teams’ lone meeting.
Inside the Series...
Tuesday's game marks the eighth all-time meeting between UMBC and George Mason, and the Patriots hold a 6-1 series advantage. The first meeting occurred on Feb. 5, 1980, an 80-47 victory for host George Mason. The Patriots won the first six meetings between the teams before the Retrievers picked up their first victory in the series in 2008. UMBC is 0-4 all-time at George Mason.
In the teams’ last meeting, Nov. 19, 2008, guards Carlee Cassidy and Michelle Kurowski each scored 22 points in the Retrievers’ 89-60 victory at the RAC Arena. Kurowski also added a game-high eight rebounds. The Retrievers led by 12 at halftime and made seven of their first eight attempts in the second period to take a 22-point advantage early in the frame. The Patriots went without a field goal for eight full minutes while falling behind by 33 midway through. George Mason center Brittney Wilkins led her team with 18 points.
News And Notes...
For Starters: UMBC opens the season with a 1-3 record for the first time since 2007 and the eighth time in 25 seasons at the Division I level. The Retrievers are 5-2 in the fifth game of the season in those years and 9-13 in Game 5 since 1986-87.
Block Party: Junior center Topé Obajolu set a school record with seven blocks against Coppin State last Tuesday. She had five blocks in the first half, and her record-breaking rejection occurred with 1:07 remaining in the game. The previous mark of six was achieved three times, most recently by Amanda Robinson against Boston University on Feb. 4, 2007. The seven blocks also give Obajolu 74 in her career, moving her into a tie with Rita Wedge for seventh place all-time at UMBC. She leads the America East with 2.5 per game so far this season after posting 40 in 2009-10, tied for the fourth-highest single-season total in school history.
Honor Roll: Junior center Topé Obajolu was named to the America East Honor Roll on Monday for setting UMBC’s single-game record with seven blocks in the win over Coppin State. She finished the week with 12.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game in two contests.
Junior Circuit: UMBC’s three leading scorers so far this season are the team’s three juniors. Forward Erin Brown leads the Retrievers with 11.8 points per game, followed by center Topé Obajolu with 10.8 ppg and guard Michelle Kurowski with 8.5 ppg. Brown has led UMBC in scoring in three of the first four games this season, with double-digit efforts in all four contests.
Tenacious D: UMBC ranks second in the America East in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to a .341 clip, and third in scoring defense, allowing just 59.5 points per game.
Special K: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski has averaged 13.0 points per game in her career, the fourth-best career scoring average in school history. She has ranked in the top 10 in the America East in scoring each of her first two seasons, the first player to do so as a freshman and sophomore since Vermont’s Courtnay Pilypaitis in 2006-07 and 2007-08.
Retrievers Picked Fifth: The Retrievers were picked to finish fifth in the America East preseason coaches’ poll, equaling the program’s highest billing since joining the America East in 2003. UMBC was also tabbed fifth in 2008-09. Boston University was the unanimous favorite to win the conference.
Head of the Class: UMBC was recognized on the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Academic Top 25 Team Honor Roll for posting the third-highest grade-point average in the nation among NCAA Division I squads during the 2009-10 academic year. The Retrievers’ 3.578 mark ranked third among Division I schools to only Utah Valley (3.630) and South Dakota State (3.622) and was the 13th-highest GPA in the country among all divisions. The No. 3 ranking is the highest ever by an America East school. The previous high of No. 7 was achieved by Maine in the 1999-2000 academic year and matched by Binghamton in 2001-02. UMBC’s 3.578 cumulative team GPA is also the highest by a conference school since the WBCA began recognizing the top 25 in 1998, bettering the Bearcats’ 3.412 in 2001-02. Moreover, the America East Conference recognized all 11 women’s basketball student-athletes on the league’s winter/spring academic honor roll for earning a GPA of 3.0 or better during the spring semester, with seven team members garnering commissioner’s honor roll status for a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
The Graduate: Senior forward Meghan Colabella earned her bachelor’s degree in history last May, graduating Magna Cum Laude after just three years. She is competing as a graduate student during the 2010-11 campaign while completing her collegiate eligibility.
Against the CAA: UMBC is 29-75 all-time against current members of the Colonial Athletic Association. The Retrievers have a winning record against Hofstra (4-2), with the most wins (13) and losses (31) coming against cross-town rival Towson. UMBC has never faced Georgia State or Old Dominion, and the Retrievers have never beaten James Madison or UNC-Wilmington. UMBC will face three CAA opponents this season in Delaware (Nov. 12), George Mason (Nov. 23) and Towson (Dec. 7) and is 0-1 so far following a 59-44 road loss to the Blue Hens in the season opener.
Bragging Rights: UMBC will take on six of the other eight Division I schools in the state of Maryland this season. The Retrievers will host Coppin State (Nov. 16), Towson (Dec. 7) and Loyola (Dec. 29) and will travel to UMES (Nov. 14), Maryland (Dec. 10) and Navy (Dec. 21) and are 1-1 so far following a loss at UMES and a victory over Coppin State. Last season, UMBC posted a 3-2 record against its in-state rivals, defeating UMES, Towson and Navy but falling to Coppin State and Loyola. The Retrievers are 73-122 all-time against the other eight Division I schools in Maryland.
Charity Case: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski led the America East with an .822 free throw percentage (83-for-101) last season, the third-best single-season mark in school history. She ranks second all-time at UMBC with a career .821 mark at the charity stripe.
Atop the America East: Three Retrievers rank among the top 10 active scorers in the America East, including junior guard Michelle Kurowski, who is second with 830 career points. In addition, senior forward Meghan Colabella ranks ninth (512) and junior forward Erin Brown is 10th (497). Moreover, Colabella ranks second among the conference’s active rebounders with 442, while Kurowski is fifth (333), and senior point guard Michele Brokans ranks third among the league’s active assist leaders with 255.
Three For All: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski ranks eighth all-time at UMBC with 80 career 3-pointers.
Helping Hand: Senior point guard Michele Brokans became the 10th player in school history to dish out 250 assists in her career in the season opener at Delaware, and she now has 255.
Double Your Pleasure: Five of UMBC’s six returning players have scored in double figures at least five times in their careers, led by junior guard Michelle Kurowski, who has achieved the feat in 41 of her 64 career games. So far this season, five Retrievers have combined for nine double-digit efforts, led by junior forward Erin Brown, who has scored at least 10 points in all four games to start the year.
Sparkplugs: Junior forward Erin Brown and freshman guard Raven Gerald provided a spark off the bench in the season opener at Delaware, combining to score 23 of UMBC’s 44 points. Brown led the Retrievers with 12 points, while Gerald tallied 11 on three 3-pointers in her collegiate debut.
Three-Point Assasin: Despite playing in just nine minutes over two contests, freshman guard Amirah Tucker is UMBC’s fourth-leading scorer at 5.5 points per game. Tucker has proven to be a serious threat from long distance, as she has knocked down three of five attempts on the season.
Double-Double Vision: Four Retrievers have combined for 18 career double-doubles, including junior guard Michelle Kurowski, who posted a team-best five last season and also leads the squad with six in her career. Forwards Meghan Colabella and Erin Brown also have five apiece.
Wrap Up: UMBC’s seven league victories in 2010 matched its highest total in seven years in the America East, which was set in 2005-06. In addition, prior to last season, the Retrievers had never finished higher than fifth in the America East before finishing in a tie for fourth place in 2010.
Road Warriors: UMBC won seven road games last season, its most since winning a school Division I-record eight games on the road in 1998-99.
Cardiac Kids: Nine of UMBC’s 13 wins last season were by single-digit margins, including five by five points or less.
Thanks for the Memories: Guard Carlee Cassidy graduated last May after putting together one of the best four-year careers in UMBC women’s basketball history. Cassidy holds UMBC’s career records for 3-pointers (248), 3-point attempts (769) and games played (119). In addition, she ranks among UMBC’s all-time leaders in many other categories, with school Division I records for points (1,627), free throws (347) and field goals attempted (1,441). Cassidy led the America East in scoring in back-to-back seasons as a sophomore and junior and was a three-time all-conference selection.
Second Helpings: UMBC trailed at halftime in seven of its 13 victories last season, including by 13 points at Fordham on Dec. 29 and by 19 against Boston U. on Feb. 24. The Retrievers averaged 32.6 points in the second half compared to 26.0 in the first half and outscored their opponents 15 times in the second stanza.
Tip-Top Topé: Last season, center Topé Obajolu broke out when America East play began Jan. 6. In 16 league games, Obajolu averaged 9.8 ppg and shot a team-best 47.3 percent from the floor, ranking sixth in the America East. She also led the league with 2.0 blocks per game. In 13 non-conference games, she scored 67 points (5.2 ppg), but she more than doubled that total in 16 league contests with 157 points.
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. However, they began a new streak in the next game against East Carolina, when they drained nine triples, and have now hit at least one in 24 straight games.
Do You Believe in Miracles: The Retrievers pulled off the fourth-largest comeback in NCAA Division I history and the second-largest in regulation on Feb. 24 against Boston University. UMBC trailed by 19 at halftime, 35-16, and fell behind by 23 points early in the second half. But the Retrievers used a 19-0 run early in the second half and a 17-3 spurt midway through to take a 52-51 advantage with 5:59 to go, and the Retrievers went on top for good on a layup by Carlee Cassidy with 1:45 on the clock. It was truly a tale of two halves for the Retrievers, who shot 55.6 percent in the second stanza, including 50 percent from long distance with seven 3’s, and committed just three turnovers after making just five of 23 field goals (21.7 percent) and two of 11 from behind the arc in the first period with 12 miscues. UMBC outscored BU, 42-22, in the second half. The Terriers’ downfall was just as drastic, as they shot 48.3 percent in the first half, including 54.5 percent (6-for-11) from 3-point range, but just 24.1 percent (7-for-29) in the second period.
Follow the Retrievers: UMBC fans can now keep up with their favorite teams in a number of new ways, as UMBC Athletics is on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter. Fans can also follow head coach Phil Stern on Twitter, as well as in his 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.