BALTIMORE--After playing five of the last six games on the road, the UMBC women's basketball team (7-8, 1-1 AE) finally returns to the RAC Arena to host America East rival Binghamton (9-6, 2-0 AE) Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. As always, the game will be streamed live on UMBCRetrievers.tv. In addition, fans attending the game who follow@UMBCAthletics on Twitter will have an opportunity to win a special prize.
RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC had its three-game winning streak snapped by a buzzer-beater on Sunday in a 60-57 loss at America East rival Maine, but the Retrievers have still won six of their last nine games and are 7-8 on the season. Junior guard Michelle Kurowski posted her second double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while junior forwardErin Brown led all scorers with 16 points. UMBC's three juniors - Brown, Kurowski and center Topé Obajolu - have accounted for 67.6 percent of the Retrievers' offense this season, and all three rank among the top 15 scorers in the America East, led by Kurowski's league-best 14.5 ppg. She became the 17th Retriever ever to reach 1,000 career points last week, while senior forward Meghan Colabella needs six more rebounds to become the 14th Retriever with 500. Kurowski also leads the conference with an .866 free throw percentage, while Obajolu is tops in the league with 1.9 blocks per game. UMBC ranks among the America East's defensive leaders, holding opponents to a .366 shooting percentage while allowing just 59.1 points per game. In addition, the Retrievers rank second in the league with a .384 field goal percentage.
BEARCAT UPDATE: Binghamton is 9-6 on the season and 2-0 in America East play following a 72-60 victory over New Hampshire on Sunday. Guard Andrea Holmes led five Bearcats in double figures with 24 points, while forward Kara Elofson pulled down nine rebounds. Holmes ranks second in the conference with 14.3 ppg and 4.1 apg, while Elofson is fourth with 8.0 rpg. In addition, forward Viive Rebane leads the league with a .518 shooting percentage. As a team, Binghamton leads the America East in both field goal percentage (.385) and defense (.361), as well as rebounding (40.1 rpg). The Bearcats were picked to finish third in the America East preseason poll, and Holmes was selected to the preseason all-conference team.
Who's Up Next: The Retrievers host America East rival Vermont on Saturday, Jan. 15. The Catamounts are 0-15 this season and will host Stony Brook on Wednesday before visiting UMBC. Vermont, which was picked to finish sixth in the America East, leads the all-time series, 11-4, and has won the last six meetings between the two teams.
Inside the Series...
Wednesday's game marks the 17th all-time meeting between UMBC and Binghamton, and the Bearcats hold a 12-4 series advantage, having won four straight and seven of the last eight meetings. The first meeting occurred on Jan. 28, 2004, a 61-48 victory for the host Bearcats. Binghamton took the first two contests before the Retrievers won, 50-46, on Jan. 22, 2005, in Vestal. The teams have split the season series in four of the last six years. As America East rivals, the teams have met twice a year since the 2003-04 season, but had never faced off prior to the Retrievers joining the conference. Binghamton is 4-3 all-time at the RAC.
In the last meeting between the two teams, Feb. 10, 2010, Binghmton defeated UMBC, 70-36, at the Events Center. The Bearcats used a 19-2 first-half run to break the game open and led, 38-18, at halftime. UMBC center Topé Obajolu was the only Retriever in double figures with 11 points. Binghamton guard Erica Carter led four Bearcats in double figures with 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.
News And Notes...
For Starters: At 7-8, UMBC opens the season with at least seven wins in its first 15 games for the sixth time in the last seven seasons. The Retrievers have been hot over the last six weeks with six wins in their last nine contests, but their three-game winning streak was snapped by a buzzer-beater Sunday at Maine.
For Starters, Part II: UMBC's 65-52 win over Stony Brook last Monday 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.
Silver Anniversary: UMBC is celebrating its 25th season at the Division I level. Since 1986-97, the Retrievers have posted a 275-416 record.
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 last Monday. 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.
Junior Circuit: UMBC's three juniors have accounted for 67.6 percent of the team's scoring this season (572 of 846 points). Guard Michelle Kurowski leads the Retrievers with 14.5 points per game, followed by forward Erin Brown (13.5 ppg) and center Topé Obajolu (10.1 ppg). All three rank among the top 15 scorers in the America East, as Kurowski leads the leauge, while Brown ranks fourth and Obajolu is tied for 14th. The trio combined to score all but eight of UMBC's 56 points on Dec. 7 against Towson, as Kurowski scored 17 points, Obajolu 16 and Brown 15.
Board Games: Senior forward Meghan Colabella is six 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 4.8 rebounds per game this season and pulled down a season-high 11 boards against Brown on Nov. 28 while notching her first double-double of the season and the sixth of her career.
Special K: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski is averaging an America East-best 14.5 points per game on the season. She has averaged 13.5 points per game in her career, the fourth-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. She was named America East Player of the Week on Nov. 29 after averaging 19.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game in three contests. It was the third such award of her career after earning it twice last season. She has scored 20 or more points four times this season, including three straight from Nov. 27-Dec. 4.
Welcome Home: Tonight's game against Binghamton is just UMBC's second home contest in its last seven games dating to Dec. 10. UMBC's only other home game in that span was Dec. 29 against Loyola.
Streaking: UMBC won three straight games from Dec. 21-Jan. 3, the Retrievers' second three-game winning streak this season, as they also won three in arow from Nov. 28-Dec. 7. UMBC's only two losses separating those streaks were to ACC powers Maryland and Virginia. Prior to this season, the Retrievers' last three-game winning streak was Nov. 24-Dec. 2, 2009.
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 49 of her 75 career games. So far this season, seven Retrievers have combined for 38 double-digit efforts, led by junior forward Erin Brown, who has scored at least 10 points in 13 of 15 games to start the year, though her career-high six-game streak was snapped on Dec. 21 at Navy. Four Retrievers reached double figures in the same game on Dec. 29 against Loyola for the first time since Jan. 18, 2010, against Binghamton.
Double-Double Vision: Senior forward Meghan Colabella notched UMBC's first double-double of the season on Nov. 28 against Brown when she posted 10 points and a season-best 11 rebounds, and junior guard Michelle Kurowski made it two in a row with 25 points and 11 boards on Dec. 4 against Bucknell. Kurowski then posted her second double-double of the season on Jan. 9 at Maine with 14 points and a season-high 12 caroms. Kurowski leads the Retrievers with eight career double-doubles, while Colabella has six and junior forwardErin Brown has five. In all, four Retrievers have combined for 20 career double-doubles.
Tenacious D: UMBC ranks second in the America East in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to a .366 clip, and ranks third in scoring defense, allowing just 59.1 points per game. Opponents have shot less than 40 percent against UMBC in 12 of 15 contests this season and have scored less than 60 points in all seven of the Retrievers' wins, including a season-low 48 points by Towson on Dec. 7.
Ol' Reliable: Junior forward Erin Brown has been the Retrievers' most consistent player this season. She has scored in double figures in 13 of the first 15 games this season, though her career-high six-game double-figure streak was snapped on Dec. 21 at Navy.
Block Party: Junior center Topé Obajolu leads the America East with 1.9 blocks per game this season. 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 Nov. 28 against Brown, and she currently ranks sxith with 92. She rejected 40 shots in 2009-10, tied for the fourth-highest single-season total in school history.
Century Mark: UMBC's 65-52 victory over Stony Brook on Monday was head coach Phil 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 100-152 in nine seasons since the 2002-03 campaign.
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 a season-high 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. She then posted her second consecutive double-digit scoring effort with 10 points at Maine on Jan. 9.
Lighting the Coles: Sophomore guard Kristin Coles made 11 of 12 field goal attempts in two games Dec. 18-21, including all six at Navy, when she tallied a career-high 13 points. 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 guardKristin Coles matched her career best with three, while senior forward Meghan Colabellaalso recorded three, a season high. The Retrievers are averaging 8.1 steals per game this season, ranking fifth in the America East.
Rally Time: Trailing Bucknell by 11 points, 54-43, with 9:16 remaining 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.
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 scored against Brown 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. 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. 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.
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 while draining seven of 11 attempts from beyond the arc. Kurowski and junior forwardErin 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 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.
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 is now just six helpers shy of joining the 300-assist club.
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 35 straight games.
Against the America East: UMBC joined the America East in 2003-04, and the Retrievers are 39-79 in seven years of America East play. All-time, UMBC is 41-82 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.
Charity Case: For the second year in a row, junior guard Michelle Kurowski leads the America East in free throw percentage, and her .866 clip from the foul line ranks 36th in the NCAA. She made 22 consecutive free throws dating to Nov. 20 against St. Joseph's before missing her final attempt on Dec. 4 against Bucknell and finishing 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 .830 mark at the charity stripe, and her .822 clip in 2009-10 is the third-best single-season mark in school history. As a team, UMBC leads the America East with a .711 free throw percentage, as well. The Retrievers made 20 of 26 foul shots against Loyola on Dec. 29, making the most free throws as a team since March 13, 2009, against Binghamton in the America East quarterfinals.
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.
Cassidy Continues Career: Former UMBC standout Carlee Cassidy last week signed a professional contract with Forssan Alku Basketball Club in Finland. Forssan Alku is currently 7-7 on the season and in fifth place in D1, the top division in Finland. The season runs from October to March, and Cassidy's first game will be this Saturday, Jan. 8. A three-time America East All-Conference selection and two-time America East All-Academic honoree, Cassidy graduated last May after putting together one of the best four-year careers in UMBC women's basketball history in which she averaged 13.7 points per game. The 5-9 guard 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).
Retrievers Ink Two: A pair of high school seniors recently signed National Letters of Intent to join the Retrievers in the fall of 2011. 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 the 2009-10 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.
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, 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.