BALTIMORE--After nearly a week off, the UMBC women's basketball team (2-5) returns home Saturday afternoon to take on Bucknell at 2 p.m. at the RAC Arena. The game can be heard on Fox 1370 Sports Radio and Fox1370.com, and as always will be streamed live on UMBCRetrievers.tv.
RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC is coming off a pair of impressive performances at the Iona Thanksgiving Classic last weekend, including a 75-55 rout of Brown on Sunday, which snapped a three-game losing streak. In that game, junior guardMichelle Kurowski posted her second consecutive 20-point performance, scoring a season-high 25, while senior forwardMeghan Colabella notched her first double-double of the season and the sixth of her career with 10 points and 11 rebounds. The Retrievers shot 47.0 percent from the floor in the two tournament games after making just 30.7 percent of their attempts in the first five contests of the season. UMBC also nearly doubled its season total of 3-pointers, draining 16 of 30 on the weekend. Kurowski and junior forward Erin Brown were both named to the All-Tournament Team, while Kurowski earned America East Player of the Week honors. Despite allowing a season-high 77 points to Toledo on Sunday, UMBC is still among the conference's defensive leaders, holding opponents to a .354 field goal percentage and 60.6 points per game, the second- and third-best marks, respectively.
BISON UPDATE: Bucknell is 2-4 on the season after falling at Loyola, 59-55, on Wednesday. Forward Joyce Novacek led all players with 18 points and 19 rebounds, while forwardLindsay Horbatuck also posted a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards. Freshman guard Shelby Romine is the Bison's leading scorer, averaging 14.7 points per game - the second-best mark in the Patriot League - while Novacek is second with 8.2 points per game while pulling down a team-best 9.3 rebounds per contest, which also ranks second in the conference. Bucknell was picked to finish eighth in the Patriot League preseason poll after posting a 7-21 overall record in 2009-10.
Who's Up Next: The Retrievers conclude their brief two-game home stand against cross-town rival Towson on Tuesday. The Tigers are 3-3 on the season and host Rhode Island on Saturday before visiting UMBC. The Retrievers are 13-31 all-time against the Tigers following last season's 74-72 victory at the Towson Center.
Inside the Series...
Saturday's game marks the seventh all-time meeting between UMBC and Bucknell, and the Bison hold a 4-2 series advantage. The first meeting occurred on Nov. 30, 1979, a 64-29 victory for the Bison at the Pittsburgh-Johnstown Tournament. The series in Baltimore is tied, 1-1, but the teams have not met at UMBC since Nov. 21, 1998, a 76-67 victory for Bucknell at the UMBC Invitational, which was the teams' last matchup prior to last season.
In the teams' last meeting on Nov. 29, 2009, UMBC withstood a furious second-half comeback attempt by the Bison and picked up a 68-63 victory in Lewisburg, Pa. Retriever guard Michelle Kurowski scored 29 points on 9-of-18 shooting and 10-of-12 from the foul line, and she added seven rebounds and three steals. Bucknell guard Tricia Krewson led three Bison in double figures with 12 points.
News And Notes...
Special K: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski was named America East Player of the Week on Monday after averaging 19.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game in three contests last week. It was the third such award of her career after earning it twice last season. Kurowski reached the 20-point plateau in back-to-back games at last weekend's Iona Thanksgiving Classic, her first two 20-point performances of the season and the 14th and 15th of her career. She is now averaging a team-best 13.0 points per game on the season, ranking fifth in the America East. Kurowski has averaged 13.2 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 three seasons, the first player to do so since Vermont's Courtnay Pilypaitis in 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09.
Climbing the Charts: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski is just 113 points away from becoming the 17th member of UMBC's 1,000-point club. She currently ranks 19th all-time with 887 career points.
Junior Circuit: UMBC's three juniors have accounted for 63.5 percent of the team's scoring this season (247 of 389 points). Guard Michelle Kurowski leads the Retrievers with 13.0 points per game, followed by forward Erin Brown with 12.0 ppg and center Topé Obajoluwith 10.3 ppg. All three rank among the top 20 scorers in the America East.
Block Party: Junior center Topé Obajolu leads the America East with 2.6 blocks per game this season, nearly a full block per game more than any other player in the conference, and she has averaged 3.5 blocks in her last two outings. Obajolu set a school record with seven blocks against Coppin State on Nov. 16. She had five blocks in the first half alone. The previous mark of six was achieved three times, most recently by Amanda Robinson against Boston University on Feb. 4, 2007. Obajolu became the seventh player in school history to record 80 career blocks with three on Sunday against Brown. She rejected 40 shots in 2009-10, tied for the fourth-highest single-season total in school history.
Board Games: Senior forward Meghan Colabella is 38 rebounds shy of becoming the 14th Retriever ever to reach 500 in her career and the first since Sharri Rohde joined the club in 2006-07. Colabella is averaging 6.0 rebounds per game this season and pulled down a season-high 11 boards against Brown on Sunday while notching her first double-double of the season and the sixth of her career.
Thankful at Iona: The Retrievers turned a corner on their season at last weekend's Iona Thanksgiving Classic, 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 on Saturday marked UMBC's first 70-point performances since scoring 74 at Loyola on Dec. 20, 2009, while the 75 points scored against Brown on Sunday were the most since putting up 102 against UMES on Nov. 15, 2009. In addition, the weekend marked the first time the Retrievers have 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 points in the two games at Iona, UMBC raised its season scoring average by 7.2 points per game 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 last 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, and now boasts a .340 clip from long distance on the year.
Thankful at Iona, Part II: Just like UMBC as a team, junior guard Michelle Kurowski got untracked at last weekend's Iona Thanksgiving Classic. 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 - fifth-best in the America East - 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.
Double-Double Vision: Senior forward Meghan Colabella notched UMBC's first double-double of the season on Sunday against Brown when she posted 10 points and a season-best 11 rebounds. Colabella and junior guard Michelle Kurowski lead the Retrievers with six career double-doubles, while junior forward Erin Brown has five. In all, four retrievers have combined for 19 career double-doubles.
Charity Case: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski leads the America East with a .913 free throw percentage, the second year in a row she is the league's top foul shooter. She has made 11 consecutive free throws dating to Nov. 20 against St. Joseph's. Kurowski ranks second all-time at UMBC with a career .828 mark at the charity stripe, and her .822 clip in 2009-10 is the third-best single-season mark in school history.
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 267.
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 43 of her 67 career games. So far this season, six Retrievers have combined for 16 double-digit efforts, led by junior forward Erin Brown, who has scored at least 10 points in six of seven games to start the year.
Tenacious D: UMBC ranks second in the America East in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to a .354 clip, and third in scoring defense, allowing just 60.6 points per game.
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 887 career points. In addition, senior forward Meghan Colabella and junior forward Erin Brown are tied for 10th with 534 points each. Moreover, Colabella ranks second among the conference's active rebounders with 462, while senior point guard Michele Brokans ranks third among the league's active assist leaders with 267.
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 27 straight games.
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.
Against Patriot League: UMBC is 22-32 all-time against current Patriot League opponents. Lafayette is the only team agaisnt which the Retrievers have a winning record (2-0). UMBC's most wins have come against local rivals Navy (11-14) and American (5-7). Bucknell is the first of two Patriot League opponents for UMBC this season; the Retrievers will visit Navy on Dec. 21.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.