BALTIMORE--The UMBC women's basketball team (4-5) begins a three-game road swing on Friday when it visits in-state rival and 23rd-ranked Maryland (8-1) at 7 p.m. The game can be heard live on Fox 1370 Sports Radio orwww.fox1370.com
RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC picked up its third straight win on Tuesday, a 56-48 victory over cross-town rival Towson at the RAC. The Retrievers' three juniors - guard Michelle Kurowski (17), forward Erin Brown (15) and center Topé Obajolu (16) combined to score all but eight of UMBC's points in the game. The trio has accounted for 68 percent of the Retrievers' offense this season, and all three rank among the top 15 scorers in the America East, led by Kurowski (14.8 ppg) and Brown (12.7), who are fourth and fifth, respectively. Kurowski also leads the league with a .927 free throw percentage, while Obajolu is tops with 2.2 blocks per game. UMBC ranks among the America East's defensive leaders, holding opponents to a league-low .354 shooting percentage while allowing just 58.8 points per game, which ranks second.
TERRAPIN UPDATE: Maryland, which is ranked 23rd in the nation in the most recent ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, is 8-1 on the season following a 79-61 win at Loyola on Tuesday, its seventh straight victory. Center Lynetta Kizer scored 21 points, while forwardTianna Hawkins posted a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Three Terps are averaging double figures in scoring, led by Kizer's 13.6 points per game. Maryland is one of the top rebounding teams in the country, averaging 49.3 boards per contest, and is also led on the glass by Kizer's 7.9 rpg. Maryland is also one of the top defensive teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference, allowing just 53.7 ppg and holding opponents to a .335 field goal percentage, ranking second in both categories. The Terps were picked to finish fourth in the ACC preseason poll after making its seventh straight postseason appearance in 2009-10.
Who's Up Next: The Retrievers break for final exams before visiting their second straight ACC opponent with a trip to Charlottesville, Va., to take on the University of Virginia on Saturday, Dec. 18. The Cavaliers are 6-4 on the season. Virginia won the first-ever meeting between the two teams last season, 68-57.
Inside the Series...
Friday's game marks the 10th all-time meeting between UMBC and Maryland, and the Terps hold a 9-0 series advantage. The first meeting occurred on Feb. 24, 1987, a 119-59 victory for the host Terrpains. The Retrievers are 0-8 in College Park, including 0-3 in the Comcast Center.
In the teams' last meeting on Dec. 30, 2007, the fifth-ranked Terps defeated the Retrievers, 98-56, on the final day of the Terrapin Classic at Comcast Center. UMBC guard Carlee Cassidy scored game-high 24 points in the loss. Maryland set an ACC record with 17 three-pointers in the game. Forward Marissa Coleman led five Terps in double figures with 18 points, while center Crystal Langhorne posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards.
News And Notes...
Special K: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski 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. Kurowski is averaging a team-best 14.8 points per game on the season, ranking fourth in the America East, but her three-game 20-point streak was snapped on Tuesday when she scored 17 points against Towson. 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.
Climbing the Charts: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski is just 71 points away from becoming the 17th member of UMBC's 1,000-point club. She currently ranks 19th all-time with 929 career points.
Junior Circuit: UMBC's three juniors have accounted for 68.1 percent of the team's scoring this season (346 of 508 points). Guard Michelle Kurowski leads the Retrievers with 14.8 points per game, followed by forward Erin Brown with 12.7 ppg and center Topé Obajoluwith 11.0 ppg. All three rank among the top 15 scorers in the America East, as Kurowski and Brown are fourth and fifth, respectively, while Obajolu is tied for 12th. The trio combined to score all but eight of UMBC's 56 points on Tuesday against Towson, as Kurowski scored 17 points, Obajolu 16 and Brown 15.
Streaking: UMBC has won three straight games for the first time since Nov. 24-Dec. 2, 2009. Coincidentally, that streak also included victories against Towson and Bucknell.
Hit the Road, Jack: The Retrievers are beginning a stretch where five of their next six games will be played on the road. Following tonight's game at Maryland, UMBC will also visit Virginia (Dec. 18), Navy (Dec. 21), Stony Brook (Jan. 3) and Maine (Jan. 9) before hosting Binghamton and Vermont in back-to-back contests Jan. 12 and 15. The Retrievers' lone home game during that stretch is Dec. 29 against Loyola.
Block Party: Junior center Topé Obajolu leads the America East with 2.2 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. 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 27 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 a team-best 5.9 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.
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 of play to defeat the Bision, 63-57, on Saturday. The final 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 last 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 from the floor while draining seven of 11 attempts from beyond the arc. 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 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 Saturday against Bucknell. Kurowski leads the Retrievers with seven career double-doubles, while Colabella has six and junior forward Erin Brown has five. In all, four retrievers have combined for 20 career double-doubles.
Charity Case: For the second year in a row, junior guard Michelle Kurowski leads the America East with a .927 free throw percentage. She made 22 consecutive free throws dating to Nov. 20 against St. Joseph's before missing her final attempt on Saturday 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 .837 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 270.
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 45 of her 69 career games. So far this season, six Retrievers have combined for 22 double-digit efforts, led by junior forward Erin Brown, who has scored at least 10 points in eight of nine games to start the year.
Atop the America East: A pair of Retrievers rank among the top 10 active scorers in the America East, including junior guard Michelle Kurowski, who is second with 929 career points. In addition, junior forward Erin Brown is ninth (564). Moreover, senior forwardMeghan Colabella ranks second among the conference's active rebounders with 473, while senior point guard Michele Brokans ranks third among the league's active assist leaders with 270.
Tenacious D: UMBC leads the America East in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to a .354 clip, and ranks second in scoring defense, allowing just 58.8 points per game. The Retrievers held Towson to just 48 points on Tuesday, a season-low for a UMBC opponent in 2010-11.
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 29 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 the ACC: UMBC has not had success against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents in the past. The Retrievers have never won in 17 previous meetings against current ACC teams. UMBC will also face ACC member Virginia on Dec. 18.
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 2-1 so far following a loss at UMES and victories over Coppin State and Towson. 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 74-122 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.