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Top-Seeded Retrievers Start Playoff Push Friday in America East Quarterfinals
Juniors Tope Obajolu and Erin Brown each earned America East All-Conference honors.
WEST HARTFORD, Conn.--Top-seeded UMBC women's basketball, the America East regular-season champion, begins its playoff run in the America East Championship quarterfinals Friday at 6:05 p.m. The Retrievers (19-10, 13-3 AE) will face the winner of Thursday's first-round game between No. 8 Stony Brook and No. 9 Maine. The game can be heard on Fox 1370 and Fox1370.com, and it will be streamed live for free at AmericaEast.com, and can also be viewed on iPhones, iPads and iPods. As always, fans can follow along with Twitter updates at Twitter.com/UMBCAthletics.
RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC won its first-ever America East regular-season title with a 13-3 record in conference play, its best-ever since joining the league in 2003-04; the previous high of seven was achieved in 2006 and 2010. The Retrievers are 19-10 overall and have won six straight dating to Feb. 5 and 18 of 23 since Nov. 28 after starting the season 1-5. The 19 wins are a school Division I record and one shy of the all-time mark of 20, set in 1985-86. UMBC swept the season series from five league opponents - Hartford, Albany, New Hampshire, Vermont and Stony Brook - and split with Boston University, Binghamton and Maine, defeating all three at home and falling on the road. UMBC is coming off a 62-55 victory over Albany in last Wednesday’s regular-season finale. Senior forward Meghan Colabella scored a season-high 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range, while junior forward Erin Brown posted her third double-double of the season and the eighth of her career with 16 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Junior guard Michelle Kurowski added 10 points and eight rebounds. UMBC’s three juniors - Brown, Kurowski and center Topé Obajolu - have accounted for 69.1 percent of the Retrievers’ offense this season. All three rank in the top 15 in the America East - the only team who can make that claim - as Kurowski ranks second (14.6 ppg), Brown fifth (14.2) and Obajolu 12th (10.4). Kurowski also leads the America East with an .888 free throw percentage, which ranks 13th in the NCAA and would be a school record. Obajolu is tops in the conference with 1.8 blocks per game, and her 52 blocks this season are a UMBC single-season record. Kurowski ranks ninth all-time at UMBC with 1,220 points. UMBC ranks among the league’s defensive leaders, holding opponents to a league-low .349 shooting percentage, which ranks 16th in the nation, while allowing just 55.2 points per game, which ranks second in the conference.
SEAWOLVES UPDATE: Stony Brook (6-22, 3-13) defeated Binghamton, 54-37, in Saturday’s regular-season finale, snapping a three-game losing streak. Center Juanita Cochran paced the Seawolves with 22 points, while guard Tamiel Murray pulled down 14 rebounds and dished out six assists. The Seawolves, who were picked to finish fourth in the America East preseason poll, just ahead of the Retrievers, earned the No. 8 seed in the America East Championship. Forward Kirsten Jeter ranks sixth in the America East with 13.8 ppg this season, while center Destiny Jacobs and Jeter rank eighth and ninth in the conference in rebounding with 7.1 rpg and 7.0 rpg, respectively. Jeter also leads the league with 3.0 steals per game, while Murray is fifth with 2.0 spg. Stony Brook boasts the second-best offense in the America East, scoring 59.7 ppg, but is second-to-last in scoring defense, allowing 67.2 ppg. The Seawolves are also last in the league in field-goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to shoot .417, but they rank first in steals (9.8 spg) and second in rebounding (38.1 rpg).
BLACK BEAR UPDATE: Maine (4-24, 2-14) dropped its regular-season finale to Albany, 66-60, on Saturday. Guard Brittany Williams paced the Black Bears with 16 points, while guard Katelyn Vanderhoff pulled down seven rebounds and dished out seven assists. The Black Bears, who were picked to finish eighth in the America East preseson poll, earned the No. 9 seed in the America East Championship. Freshman guard Ashleigh Roberts is the team’s leading scorer with 10.7 ppg, which ranks 11th in the conference, while Vanderhoff leads Maine with 5.5 rpg and 3.1 apg. In addition, guard Amber Smith ranks fourth in the league with an .824 free throw percentage, and Vanderhoff’s 2.1 steals per game rank third. Maine ranks last in the America East in scoring defense, allowing 69.5 ppg, and is eighth in scoring at 54.6 ppg. However, the Black Bears rank second to UMBC in free throw percentage at .715.
WHO’S UP NEXT: A win would send UMBC to the semifinals on Sunday at 1:34 p.m. The Retrievers would take on the winner of the quarterfinal matchup between No. 4 Hartford and No. 5 Albany. UMBC swept both teams this season. A second win would put the Retrievers in the championship game next Saturday at the RAC Arena.
Inside the Series vs. Stony Brook: Today’s game marks ths 18th all-time meeting between UMBC and Stony Brook, and the Seawolves hold a 10-7 series advantage. The first meeting occurred on Jan. 7, 2004, a 53-49 victory for host Stony Brook. The Seawolves won the first four contests before the Retrievers picked up a 70-48 victory at SBU Arena on Jan. 29, 2006. Stony Brook won the next three before UMBC knocked off the second-seeded Seawolves in the 2007 America East quarterfinals, which started a stretch that saw the Retrievers take four of five meetings before Stony Brook swept the 2010 season series. However, UMBC took both games in the 2011 series. As America East rivals, the teams have met twice a year since the Retrievers joined the conference in 2003-04 but had never met previously. Junior guard Michelle Kurowski is averaging 14.2 ppg in six career games against the Seawolves, including 17.0 ppg this season, while junior forward Erin Brown has scored 13.5 ppg in six contests, including 18.5 ppg in 2011. In the teams’ last meeting, Jan. 29, 2011, UMBC defeated Stony Brook, 65-57, at the RAC. Brown scored 18 points and Kurowski added 15. Junior center Topé Obajolu scored 12 points and dished out a career-high six assists, and senior forward Meghan Colabella gave the Retrievers four players in double figures with 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Stony Brook forward Kirsten Jeter posted a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. In the teams’ first meeting of the season, Jan. 3 at Pritchard Gym, Kurowski scored 19 points and added eight rebounds, while Brown also tallied 19 points and was 3-for-5 from 3-point range, and Colabella scored 15 points and was 7-for-8 from the foul line. Jeter led the Seawolves with a double-double of 14 points and 14 rebounds, and she also added four assists and five steals.
Inside the Series vs. Maine: Today’s game marks the 17th all-time meeting between UMBC and Maine, and the Black Bears hold a 9-7 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 won five straight before this season, when the teams each won at home. As America East rivals, the teams have met twice a year since the Retrievers joined the conference in 2003-04 but had never met previously. Junior forward Erin Brown has averaged 16.2 ppg in six career games against the Black Bears, including 21.0 ppg and 8.0 rpg this season. In the teams’ last meeting, Feb. 5, 2011, UMBC defeated Maine, 56-49, at the RAC. Brown scored a career-high 26 points and added 11 rebounds for the double-double. She shot 8-for-17 from the floor and 8-for-8 from the foul line. Junior guard Michelle Kurowski scored 15 points, while junior center Topé Obajolu tallied 12, as the trio combined to score 53 of UMBC’s 56 points in the game. Maine guard Amber Smith posted a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, while forward Corinne Wellington tallied 12 points and nine boards. In the teams’ first meeting of the season, Jan. 9 at Alfond Arena, Maine guard Tanna Ross hit a 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds remaining to give the Black Bears a 60-57 victory. Kurowski posted a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Brown led all scorers with 16 points. Maine guard Ashleigh Roberts also notched a double-double with 14 points and 12 boards, leading five Black Bears in double figures.
News And Notes...
We are The Champions: UMBC claimed its first-ever America East regular-season title last Wednesday when it defeated Albany, 62-55. The Retrievers took the league by surprise, posting a 13-3 record with 10 wins in their last 11 games after being picked to finish fifth in the preseason poll. As the top seed in the America East Championship, the Retrievers will host the conference title game, should they reach the contest, and they are guaranteed a postseason appearance in either the NCAA Tournament or WNIT.
For Starters: UMBC’s 19 wins are a school Division I record, surpassing the 1990-91 team’s 17 victories, and are one shy of the overall school mark of 20, which was set by the 1985-86 squad. The Retrievers have been hot over the last three months with 18 wins in their last 23 contests after starting the season 1-5. The Retrievers are nine games over .500 for the first time since Feb. 28, 1986, when they were 20-9. UMBC has not had a winning season since 2005-06 (15-13).
For Starters, Part II: UMBC’s 13 America East victories are its most ever in its eight seasons in the America East. Prior to this season, UMBC had not won more than seven America East contests (7-9 in 2006 and 2010) or finished higher than tied for fourth (2010). UMBC’s 65-52 win over Stony Brook on Jan. 3 was its second-ever in an America East opener and first since defeating Boston University in 2007, the year the Retrievers won the conference title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
All-Conference Trio: UMBC junior guards Michelle Kurowski and Erin Brown were both selected to the America East All-Conference First Team, while junior center Topé Obajolu was tabbed to the Third Team. Kurowski and Brown give the Retrievers two players on the America East first team for the first time ever; Carlee Cassidy in 2008 is the only other Retriever ever to earn first-team honors in the America East. In addition, with Obajolu’s inclusion on the third team, UMBC places three players on all-conference squads for the first time in its eight seasons in the America East. Obajolu was also voted to the All-Defensive team, the first Retriever to earn that honor since Sharri Rohde in 2007 and just the second UMBC player ever.
Coach of the Year: UMBC head coach Phil Stern was named America East Coach of the Year in a vote of the league’s nine head coaches. Stern guided the Retrievers, who were picked to finish fifth in the America East preseason poll, to their first-ever America East regular-season title. Stern oversaw a +6 turnaround from last season, when they Retrievers posted a 13-17 overall record and 7-9 league mark. In addition, after starting the season 1-5, Stern’s team finished the season strong, going 18-5 over the final 23 games and is riding a six-game winning streak into the America East Championship. Stern is the first UMBC women’s basketball coach to be named Coach of the Year since Kathy Solano in 1994 in the Big South. In addition, while it is his third Coach of the Year honor at the Division I level, who garnered the accolade twice in the Division II Peach Belt Conference while at USC Aiken (2000, 2002).
Silver Anniversary: UMBC is celebrating its 25th season at the Division I level. Since 1986-97, the Retrievers have posted a 287-418 record.
Home Sweet Home: UMBC is 12-1 at the RAC Arena this season, a new school Division I record for home wins, surpssing the 1990-91 team’s previous mark of 11. The Retrievers have won 11 straight at home, matching the school record set from Jan. 28, 1986-Jan. 22, 1987. UMBC’s only home loss this season occurred on Nov. 20 to Saint Joseph’s. Dating to Feb. 7, 2010, the Retrievers have won 15 of their last 16 home games.
Join the Club: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski became the 17th member of UMBC’s 1,000-point club with a layup late in the second half at Stony Brook on Jan. 3. She reached the milestone in her 74th career game, making her the third-fastest Retriever to accomplish the feat, as only Tammy McCarthy and Felice Pinkney needed less games. In addition, she is only the fourth Retriever ever to score her 1,000th point during her junior season, joining McCarthy, Kori Kindbom and former teammate Carlee Cassidy. Kurowski now ranks ninth all-time with 1,220 career points.
Junior Circuit: UMBC’s three juniors have accounted for 69.1 percent of the team’s scoring this season (1,139 of 1,648 points). Guard Michelle Kurowski leads the Retrievers with 14.6 points per game, followed by forward Erin Brown (14.2 ppg) and center Topé Obajolu (10.4 ppg). Kurowski ranks second in the America East, while Brown is fifth and Obajolu is 13th; UMBC is the only team with three players ranking in the top 15 in scoring in the America East. The trio combined to score all but two points during UMBC’s second-half comeback at Albany on Jan. 26 and all but three points in the entire game against Maine on Feb. 5.
Block Party: Junior center Topé Obajolu broke UMBC’s record for blocks in a season when she rejected two shots at Vermont on Feb. 9, giving her 48 on the season, and she now has 52; Monica Logan’s previous mark of 47 had stood since 1996-97. Obajolu became the fifth Retriever ever to record 100 career blocks on Jan. 23 against New Hampshire, and she now has 116, which ranks fourth. She leads the America East with 1.8 blocks per game this season, while senior forward Meghan Colabella, who ranks seventh all-time at UMBC with 91 career rejections, ranks fourth in the America East with 1.3 bpg this season. Obajolu set a school record with seven blocks against Coppin State on Nov. 16. The previous mark of six was achieved three times, most recently by Amanda Robinson against Boston University on Feb. 4, 2007. Obajolu’s 40 blocks last season are tied for the fifth-highest single-season total in school history.
Board Games: Senior forward Meghan Colabella became the 14th Retriever ever to record 500 career rebounds on Jan. 12 against Binghamton, and she is the first Retriever to join the club since Sharri Rohde in 2006. She now ranks 13th all-time with 577 career caroms.
Honor Roll: Junior forward Erin Brown was named America East Player of the Week last Monday after averaging 20.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 triples per game in a pair of crucial victories. It was her second award of the season and of her career, as she also earned it on Jan. 31 after averaging 18.5 ppg and 4.5 rpg in two victories. Brown is the first Retriever other than Michelle Kurowski or Carlee Cassidy to garner the accolade since Kristin Drabyn on Jan. 1, 2007.
400 and Counting: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski eclipsed the 400-point mark for the season on Feb. 17 against Boston U. for the second time in her career, as she scored 410 points as a rookie in 2008-09. She is the 16th player to score 400 points in a season and just the fourth to do so more than once. Junior forward Erin Brown joined her in the 400-point club, mark just the second time two Retrievers have scored 400 points in the same season; the last was 2008-09, when Kurowski and Carlee Cassidy both acheived the feat.
Century Mark, Times Two: UMBC’s 65-57 victory over Stony Brook on Jan. 29 was the 200th win in head coach Phil Stern’s 15-year coaching career (206-226). He joins Hartford’s Jennifer Rizzotti and Boston University’s Kelly Greenberg as the only America East coaches with 200 career victories. In addition, UMBC’s 65-52 victory over Stony Brook on Jan. 3 was Stern’s 100th win at the Retriever helm, making him just the second head coach in UMBC women’s basketball history to reach the century mark. Sue Furnary posted a 152-193 record in 13 seasons from 1980-93; Stern is 112-154 in nine seasons since the 2002-03 campaign.
Special K: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski ranks second in the America East with 14.6 points per game on the season. She has averaged 13.7 ppg in her career, the third-best career scoring average in school history, and she has ranked in the top 10 in the America East in scoring each of her first three seasons, the first player to do so since Vermont’s Courtnay Pilypaitis in 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09. Kurowski is the second-leading active scorer in the America East with 1,220 career points, behind Stony Brook’s Kirsten Jeter (1,467). Kurowski has scored 20 or more points six times this season, including three straight from Nov. 27-Dec. 4.
Special K, Part II: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski was named America East and ECAC Player of the Week on Jan. 17 after averaging 29.0 ppg and shooting 67.6 percent (23-for-34) in wins over Binghamton and Vermont. It was her second America East award of the season, as she also earned it on Nov. 29 after averaging 19.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game in three contests, and it was the fourth award of her career after winning it twice last season. Her four America East Player of the Week awards match former teammate Carlee Cassidy for the most ever by a Retriever in UMBC’s eight seasons in the conference.
Helping Hand: Senior point guard Michele Brokans became the ninth player in school history to dish out 300 assists on Jan. 12 against Binghamton, and she is the first Retriever to join the club since Sharri Rohde in 2007. She currently ranks sixth all-time with 347 helpers. In addition, she leads the America East with a 2.7 assist-to-turnover ratio (62-to-23) in league contests.
Bookworm: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski was selected to the CoSIDA/Capital One Academic All-District II First Team for her combined performance on the court and in the classroom. She is just the third women’s basketball player to ever earn the honor, joining Kori Kindbom (1986) and Jennifer Whiteside (1988). Kurowski boasts a 3.82 grade-point average in psychology, and she plans to earn her bachelor’s degree this spring and complete her eligibility next season as a graduate student pursuing a teaching certificate and a master’s degree in early childhood education. The Academic All-District II teams in the university division consist of five players from Division I schools in Delaware, Washington, D.C., Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. In addition, Kurowski was selected to the America East All-Academic Team.
In the Polls: The nation is beginning to take notice of UMBC’s play, as the Retrievers are receiving 31 votes in the most recent CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25, good for 28th. In addition, UMBC is the highest-ranked America East team in the most recent NCAA RPI at 147.
Raining Three’s: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski became the eighth player in school history to sink 100 three-pointers in her career on Jan. 12 against Binghamton, and junior forward Erin Brown became the ninth on Feb. 13 at New Hampshire. They are just the second-ever set of Retriever teammates with 100 three-pointers apiece and the first since Shalayna Johnson and Jessie Brown in 2002-03.
Tenacious D: UMBC leads the America East and ranks 16th in the NCAA in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to a .349 clip. The Retrievers also rank second in the league and 31st in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 55.2 ppg. Opponents have shot less than 40 percent against UMBC in 23 of 29 contests this season, including less than 30 percent seven times, and they have scored 60 points or less in all 19 wins.
Tenacious D, Part II: UMBC set a number of defensive records in its 43-32 victory at Vermont on Feb. 9. The Retrievers held the Catamounts to just 17.0 percent shooting (8-for-47), the lowest field goal percentage ever by a Retriever opponent; the previous low was 17.3 percent by Bowie State in 1985. In addition, Vermont’s eight field goals in the game matched the fewest ever by the Catamounts, while their 32 points scored were the fewest UMBC has allowed in its Division I era and the least since Dec. 11, 1981, against Western Maryland, which also scored 32. Vermont made just one of 18 field goal attempts in the first half (5.6 percent).
Double Your Pleasure: Eight Retrievers have combined for 70 double-digit efforts this season, led by junior forward Erin Brown, who has scored at least 10 points in 23 of 29 games, including the last six, matching her career high set from Nov. 27-Dec. 18. Junior guard Michelle Kurowski has scored in double figures in 59 of her 89 career games, including a career-best eight straight from Dec. 21-Jan. 20. Four Retrievers reached double figures in the same game on Dec. 29 against Loyola for the first time since Jan. 18, 2010, against Binghamton, and they matched that feat on Jan. 29 against Stony Brook.
Charity Case: For the second year in a row, junior guard Michelle Kurowski leads the America East in free throw percentage, and her .888 clip from the foul line ranks 13th in the NCAA and would be a UMBC record. She made 22 consecutive free throws from Nov. 20 -Dec. 4, when she missed her final attempt against Bucknell and finished 11-for-12 in the game. The 11 free throws are the most by a Retriever in a single game since Carlee Cassidy drained 13 against Stony Brook on Feb. 21, 2009. Kurowski ranks second all-time at UMBC with a career .843 mark. As a team, UMBC leads the America East with a .730 free throw percentage, as well. The Retrievers made 22 of 29 foul shots against Albany last Wednesday, making the most free throws as a team since March 13, 2009, against Binghamton in the America East quarterfinals.
Cool Under Pressure: Junior forward Erin Brown has made 27 of 28 foul shots in the final minute of UMBC’s last seven wins. She now ranks third in the America East with an .861 free throw percentage, and her .799 career mark ranks third all-time at UMBC. Brown sank 30 straight free throws dating to Dec. 7 against Towson before missing her second attempt at Vermont on Feb. 9.
Double-Double Vision: Four Retrievers have combined for 22 career double-doubles, including seven this season. Junior guard Michelle Kurowski leads UMBC with nine career double-doubles, while junior forward Erin Brown has eight and senior forward Meghan Colabella has six.
Streaking: UMBC is currently riding a six-game winning streak, its longest since Jan. 26-Feb. 12, 2006. Prior to this season, the Retrievers had not won as many as four straight games since Nov. 29-Dec. 8, 2008.
Comeback Kids: UMBC has rallied from deficits of seven points or more to win seven games this season, including three times when trailing by double digits in the second half. The Retrievers’ largest comeback of 2010-11 occurred on Jan. 26, when they trailed Albany by 16 points, 35-19, with 16:14 remaining before rallying to win, 59-53.
Put Me In, Coach: Three Retrievers have played more than 1,000 minutes this season, ranking seventh, eighth and ninth on UMBC’s single-season list. All three rank in the top 10 in the America East in minutes played per game, as junior forward Erin Brown is fourth (36.6 mpg), senior guard Michele Brokans is fifth (36.0) and junior guard Michelle Kurowski is sixth (36.0). Brown and Brokans have both played all 40 minutes in eight of the last nine games.
Tale of Two Halves: UMBC rallied from a 16-point second-half deficit to defeat Albany, 59-53, on Jan. 26. The Retrievers made just five of 16 field goal attempts in the first half (31.3 percent) but shot 52 percent (13-for-25) in the second period. Conversely, the Great Danes made just six of 29 attempts (20.7 percent) in the second stanza after shooting 46.2 percent in the first. Trailing by 12 points, 29-17, at halftime, UMBC outscored Albany, 42-24, after the break, including 40-18 over the final 16:14.
Ball Control: UMBC committed just five turnovers on Jan. 23 against New Hampshire, the fewest since at least the 1996-97 season. The Retrievers, who did not turn the ball over in the second half, forced 18 Wildcat miscues with 13 steals and scored 27 points off turnovers. In addition, UMBC dished out 20 assists on 25 total field goals in the game.
Extra, Extra: UMBC’s 67-60 double-overtime victory over Hartford on Jan. 20 was its first win in a game lasting more than 40 minutes since Jan. 16, 1993, against Charleston Southern (91-89); the Retrievers had lost nine straight overtime contests since then. However, it was the first time UMBC played more than 40 minutes in a game since the 2006 America East quarterfinals against Binghamton, a 72-66 loss on March 10 - a span of 142 contests - and it was the first contest lasting more than one extra period since the Retrievers fell to Robert Morris, 85-82, in triple overtime on Jan. 11, 2003.
20/20: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski scored 28 points and junior forward Erin Brown tallied 21 on Jan. 15 against Vermont, giving the Retrievers two players with 20 points in the same game for the first time since March 4, 2009, against Boston University, when Katie Brooks (28) and Carlee Cassidy (24) each reached the plateau. Kurowski and Brown accounted for 71 percent of UMBC’s 69 points against the Catamounts. It was the 19th 20-point performance of Kurowski’s career and the second for Brown.
30 Rock: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski posted the 20th 30-point game in UMBC history when she scored 30 against Binghamton on Jan. 12. She scored nearly as many points as the entire Bearcat team (38) and had more points than the rest of her teammates combined (25). She is the fourth player in school history to score 30 points more than once in her career, as she also netted 30 against Navy on Dec. 5, 2008. In addition, it was the first 30-point effort by a Retriever since Carlee Cassidy tallied 33 against Boston U. on Jan. 28, 2009.
Tip Top Topé: Junior center Topé Obajolu scored a career-high 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, four blocks and a career-best five assists against Hartford on Jan. 20. It was her first double-digit scoring effort since Dec. 29, as she had averaged just 6.2 ppg through the first five America East contests. Obajolu then topped that performance with a new career best of 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting against New Hampshire on Jan. 23.
Pack the RAC: UMBC’s game against Hartford on Jan. 20 was the sixth annual Midday Madness, an event that has averaged 1,560 fans since its inception in 2006. The Retrievers welcomed 2,367 fans to the RAC on Thursday, the arena’s biggest crowd ever for a women’s basketball game, surpassing the 2,023 at last year’s Midday Madness. Included in Thursday’s crowd were more than 1,600 students from local elementary and middle schools.
Slump Buster: Senior forward Meghan Colabella averaged just 3.2 points per game in six December contests, but when January started, she broke out of her month-long slump with 15 points at Stony Brook on Jan. 3. She scored 13 points in the second half and came up especially clutch down the stretch, making five of six free throws in the final 1:15.
Lighting the Coles: Sophomore guard Kristin Coles was on fire against Virginia and Navy Dec. 18-22, making 11 of 12 field goal attempts and averaging 12.0 points per game. She tallied career highs in both outings, including 13 gainst the Midshipmen. She also recorded 13 rebounds and five steals in that span, including a huge offensive rebound off her own missed free throw with 2:21 to go at Navy and the Retrievers trailing by three, which set up the game-winning play.
Stolen Goods: UMBC recorded 14 steals on Dec. 18 at Virginia, the most in a game since also tallying 14 on Feb. 28, 2009, at Binghamton. Five different Retrievers had multiple steals, led by junior forward Erin Brown’s career-high four takeaways. Sophomore guard Kristin Coles matched her career best with three, while senior forward Meghan Colabella also recorded three, a season high.
Rally Time: Trailing Bucknell by 11 points, 54-43, with 9:16 left in the game, UMBC went on a 20-3 run over the final 8:09 to defeat the Bision, 63-57, on Dec. 4. The last 3:15 was even more impressive, as the Retrievers outscored Bucknell, 16-2. UMBC has one five times when trailing with 10 minutes left and has three wins when trailing with five minutes to go.
Thankful at Iona: The Retrievers turned a corner on their season at the Iona Thanksgiving Classic Nov. 27-28, scoring 70 points in both contests after averaging just 48.4 points per game through the first five games of the season. The 72 points scored against Toledo marked UMBC’s first 70-point performance since scoring 74 at Loyola on Dec. 20, 2009, while the 75 points against Brown were the most since netting 102 against UMES on Nov. 15, 2009. In addition, the weekend marked the first time the Retrievers hve scored 70 points in back-to-back games since Jan. 21-28, 2009, in wins over America East rivals Albany and Binghamton. By averaging 73.5 ppg in two games at Iona, UMBC raised its season scoring average by 7.2 ppg to 55.6. In addition, after shooting a league-worst 30.7 percent from the floor through the first five games of the season, the Retrievers connected on 47.0 percent of their attempts on the weekend, raising their season shooting percentage to .355. Similarly, UMBC nearly doubled its season total of 3-pointers, draining 16 of 30 (53.3 percent) against Toledo and Brown after making 18 of 70 (25.7 percent) through the first five games, raising its season 3-point shooting percentage to .340.
Thankful at Iona, Part II: Just like UMBC as a team, junior guard Michelle Kurowski got untracked at the Iona Thanksgiving Classic Nov. 27-28. Kurowski, who was the Retrievers’ top returning scorer from a year ago, averaged just 8.4 points per game while shooting 25.5 percent from the floor and making just three of 17 three-point attempts through the first five games of the season. But in two contests at Iona, Kurowski scored 24.5 ppg and shot 56.7 percent from the floor while draining seven of 11 attempts from beyond the arc. With the back-to-back 20-point performances - her first two of the season - she raised her season scoring average to 13.0 ppg, and her season shooting percentage to .370. Kurowski and junior forward Erin Brown were both selected to the All-Tournament team, as Brown averaged 14.0 ppg and 6.0 rpg on the weekend.
Sparkplugs: Junior forward Erin Brown and freshman guard Raven Gerald provided a spark off the bench in the season opener t 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’s Company: UMBC has made at least one 3-pointer in 49 straight games dating to Dec. 28, 2009, against East Carolina. The Retrievers’ 140-game streak, which had dated to Feb. 5, 2005, was snapped the previous game, Dec. 22, at West Virginia, when they went 0-for-10 from long distance.
Against the America East: UMBC joined the America East in 2003-04, and the Retrievers are 51-81 in eight years of America East play. All-time, UMBC is 53-84 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.
Bragging Rights: UMBC took on six of the other eight Division I schools in the state of Maryland this season. The Retrievers hosted Coppin State (Nov. 16), Towson (Dec. 7) and Loyola (Dec. 29) and traveled to UMES (Nov. 14), Maryland (Dec. 10) and Navy (Dec. 21). UMBC posted a 4-2 record against its in-state opponents with losses at UMES and Maryland and victories over Coppin State, Towson and Navy. 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 76-124 all-time against the other eight Division I schools in Maryland.
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.
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.
Retrievers Ink Two: A pair of high school seniors have signed National Letters of Intent to join the Retrievers next fall. Lauren Chase, a 5-5 point guard from Bowie, Md., was rated as the No. 57 point guard in the nation by ESPN, and her high school, Riverdale Baptist, finished last season as the top-ranked team in the Washington, D.C., area by the Washington Post. Ashley Lambert is a versatile 5-11 player from Riverbend High School in Fredericksburg, Va., who is one of the top-ranked seniors in her region. The Retrievers will also get some help from two transfers who have sat out this season under NCAA rules. Junior guard Brittany Crowell played 38 games in two seasons at James Madison, which made back-to-back postseason appearances. Junior guard Raven Harris ranked second in the Patriot League with 2.5 steals per game and third with 3.4 assists per game in 2009-10 while at American
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 at twitter.com/umbcwbb, as well as in his blog, PHILosophy, and the team can also be found on Facebook.
Retrievers All-Access: All of the Retrievers’ home games will be video streamed through UMBC’s multimedia website, 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 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.