BALTIMORE--The UMBC women's basketball team (6-7) opens the America East Conference portion of its schedule on Monday when it visits Stony Brook for a 7 p.m. tip-off from the Seawolves' Pritchard Gymnasium.
RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC won for the fifth time in seven games on Tuesday with a 60-57 victory over cross-town rival Loyola in its non-conference finale. Four Retrievers reached double figures for the first time in nearly a year, led by junior guard Michelle Kurowski's 18 points and junior forward Erin Brown's 16. Junior center Topé Obajolu finished one rebound shy of a double-double with 11 points and nine boards. UMBC's three juniors - Brown, Kurowski and Obajolu - have accounted for 65.7 percent of the Retrievers' offense this season, and all three rank among the top 15 scorers in the America East, led by Kurowski (14.2 ppg), who is second. Kurowski also leads the league and ranks 13th in the nation with an .893 free throw percentage, while Obajolu is tops in the conference with 1.8 blocks per gme. UMBC ranks among the America East's defensive leaders, holding opponents to a league-low .371 shooting percentage while allowing just 59.5 points per game, which ranks third.
SEAWOLVES UPDATE: Stony Brook is 3-9 on the season and has dropped six straight following a 57-54 loss at St. Francis (N.Y.) on Friday. Forward Kirsten Jeter scored a season-high 21 points and pulled down eight rebounds to pace the Seawolves. She leads Stony Brook with 11.3 points per game, while forward Destiny Jacobs is averaging 9.8 ppg and a team-best 8.0 rebounds per contest, which ranks third in the America East. The Seawolves were picked to finish fourth in the America East preseason poll, just ahead of UMBC, and Jeter was tabbed to the preseason all-conference team. Stony Brook is the league's top offense, averaging 61.6 points per game, and also leads the conference with 39.2 rebounds per contest.
Who's Up Next: The Retrievers have nearly a week off before visiting America East rival Maine on Sunday, Jan. 9. The Black Bears are 2-11 this season and will visit Hartford on Wednesday before hosting UMBC. Maine, which was picked to finish eighth in the America East, leads the all-time series with the Retrievers, 8-6, but UMBC has won the last five meetings between the two teams.
Inside the Series...
Monday's game marks the 16th all-time meeting between UMBC and Stony Brook, and the Seawolves hold a 10-5 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 between the two teams 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 semifinals, which started a stretch that saw the Retrievers take four of the five meetings before Stony Brook swept the 2010 season 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. UMBC is 2-5 all-time at Stony Brook.
In the last meeting between the two teams, Feb. 27, 2010, Stony Brook defeated UMBC, 59-48, at Pritchard Gym. UMBC forward Erin Brown posted a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while guard Michelle Kurowski scored a team-high 14 points and added seven boards. Stony Brook forward Kirsten Jeter paced the Seawolves with a game-high 22 points to go along with eight rebounds and four steals.
News And Notes...
For Starters: At 6-7, UMBC opens the season with at least six wins in its first 13 games for the sixth time in the last seven seasons. The Retrievers enter America East play hot, with wins in five of their last seven outings.
Junior Circuit: UMBC's three juniors have accounted for 65.7 percent of the team's scoring this season (489 of 724 points). Guard Michelle Kurowski leads the Retrievers with 14.2 points per game, followed by forward Erin Brown (12.8 ppg) and center Topé Obajolu (10.5 ppg). All three rank among the top 15 scorers in the America East, as Kurowski is second, Brown is sixth and Obajolu is 13th. 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.
Climbing the Charts: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski is just 19 points away from becoming the 17th member of UMBC's 1,000-point club. She currently ranks 17th all-time with 981 career points. She is on pace to reach the 1,000-point plateau on Sunday at Maine, her 75th career game, which would make her the third-fastest Retriever to reach the milestone, as only Tammy McCarthy and Felice Pinkney needed less games to accomplish the feat. Kurowski would also be only the fourth Retriever ever to score her 1,000th point during her junior season, joining McCarthy, Kori Kindbom and former teammate Carlee Cassidy.
Board Games: Senior forward Meghan Colabella is 19 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 4.5 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 a team-best 14.2 points per game on the season, ranking second in the America East. She has averaged 13.4 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.
Hit the Road, Jack: Tonight's game at Stony Brook is UMBC's fourth road contest in its last five games, and the Retrievers will also visit Maine on Sunday before hosting Binghamton and Vermont in back-to-back contests Jan. 12 and 15. UMBC's lone home game in that span was on Tuesday against Loyola. The Retrievers are just 1-5 away from the RAC this season.
Tenacious D: UMBC leads the America East in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to a .371 clip, and ranks third in scoring defense, allowing just 59.5 points per game. The Retrievers held Towson to just 48 points on Dec. 7, a season low for a UMBC opponent in 2010-11.
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 47 of her 73 career games. So far this season, seven Retrievers have combined for 32 double-digit efforts, led by junior forward Erin Brown, who has scored at least 10 points in 11 of 13 games to start the year, though her six-game streak was snapped on Dec. 21 at Navy. Four Retrievers reached double figures in the same game on Tuesday against Loyola for the first time since Jan. 18, 2010, against Binghamton.
Century Mark: UMBC head coach Phil Stern needs one more win to reach 100 victories at the Retriever helm. He would become 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 99-151 in nine seasons since the 2002-03 campaign.
Lighting the Coles: Sophomore guard Kristin Coles has been on fire in her last three contests, making 13 of 19 field goal attempts, including all six at Navy on Dec. 21, and averaging 11.3 points per game. She tallied a career-high 13 points against the Midshipmen. She has also recorded 19 rebounds and seven 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.
Ol' Reliable: Junior forward Erin Brown has been the Retrievers' most consistent player this season. She has scored in double figures in 11 of the first 13 games this season and has averaged 15.6 points per game in her last eight outings, despite having her double-figure streak snapped on Dec. 21 at Navy.
Streaking: UMBC had won three straight games from Nov. 28-Dec. 7 before falling to No. 23 Maryland last Friday. It was the Retrievers' first three-game winning streak since Nov. 24-Dec. 2, 2009. Coincidentally, that streak also included victories against Towson and Bucknell.
Block Party: Junior center Topé Obajolu leads the America East with 1.8 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 has 87. She rejected 40 shots in 2009-10, tied for the fourth-highest single-season total in school history.
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 8.4 steals per game this season, ranking fourth 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 of play to defeat the Bision, 63-57, on Dec. 4. 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 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 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 Dec. 4 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.
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.
Charity Case: For the second year in a row, junior guard Michelle Kurowski leads the America East in free throw percentage, and her .893 clip from the foul line ranks 13th 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 .839 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 .725 free throw percentage, as well. The Retrievers made 20 of 26 foul shots against Loyola on Tuesday, making the most free throws as a team since March 13, 2009, against Binghamton in the America East quarterfinals.
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 285.
Atop the America East: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski is the second-leading active scorer in the America East with 981 career points, behind only Kirsten Jeter's 1,216. In addition, senior forward Meghan Colabella ranks second among the conference's active rebounders with 481, while senior point guard Michele Brokans ranks second among the league's active assist leaders with 285.
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 33 straight games.
Against the America East: UMBC joined the America East in 2003-04, and the Retrievers are 38-78 in seven years of America East play. All-time, UMBC is 40-81 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.
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.
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.