No. 1 Women's Hoops Set for America East Semifinals Matchup with No. 4 Hartford
WEST HARTFORD, Conn.--After defeating eighth-seeded Stony Brook, 74-65, in the quarterfinals, the No. 1 UMBC women's basketball team (20-10) will face off with fourth-seeded and host Hartford (15-15) Sunday at 1:34 p.m. in the America East Championship semifinals. The game can be heard live on Fox 1370 AM and Fox1370.com, and it will be streamed live for free at AmericaEast.com. The game will also be availabe on ESPN3.com and the ESPN Full Court package and can be viewed on iPhones, iPads and iPods. And 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 20-10 overall and have won seven straight dating to Feb. 5 and 19 of 24 since Nov. 28 after starting the season 1-5. The 20 wins match the school record, which was 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 74-65 victory over Stony Brook in Sunday's America East quarterfinals. Junior guardMichelle Kurowski, a first-team all-conference selection, posted her fourth double-double of the season with 26 points and a season-high 13 rebounds, while junior forward Erin Brown, also a first-team honoree, tallied 17. Senior forward Meghan Colabella added 12 points and six assists, and junior center Topé Obajolu chipped in 11 points to give the Retrievers four players in double figures for the fourth time this season. Obajolu, a third-team pick, added five assists and three blocks. UMBC's three juniors - Brown, Kurowski and Obajolu - have accounted for 69.3 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 (15.0 ppg), Brown fourth (14.3) and Obajolu 12th (10.5). Kurowski also ranks second in the America East with an .889 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 55 blocks this season are a UMBC single-season record. Kurowski ranks seventh all-time at UMBC with 1,246 points. UMBC ranks among the league's defensive leaders, holding opponents to a .349 shooting percentage, which ranks 16th in the nation, while allowing just 55.6 points per game, which both rank second in the conference.
HAWK UPDATE: Fourth-seeded Hartford (15-15, 11-5) defeated No. 5 Albany, 48-43, America East quarterfinals, its ninth win in the last 10 games. Forward Ruthanne Doherty, an all-conference third-team selection, posted a double-double with 11 poitns and 12 rebounds, while guard Daphne Elliottalso scored 11 points. Guard Mary Silvia leads Hartford with 9.5 ppg, while Doherty is tops in the team with 5.9 rpg and ranks fourth in the conference with a .455 field goal percentage and guardJackie Smith ranks third in the league with 3.5 apg. The Hawks also boast three of the top eight 3-point shooters in the America East, led by Silvia, who connects at 38.9 percent clip from long distance. Hartford is the second-best 3-point shooting team in the league, making 34.3 percent of its shots, and also ranks second in 3-point defense, holding opponents to just 29.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc. However, Hartford ranks last in the league in rebounding (34.2 rpg). The Hawks were picked to finish second in the America East preseason poll.
WHO'S UP NEXT: A win would put the Retrievers in the championship game next Saturday at the RAC Arena. UMBC would face the winner of the other semifinal contest between No. 2 Boston University and No. 3 Binghamton. The Retrievers split the regular-season series with both teams, winning at home and falling on the road.
Inside the Series: Sunday's game marks ths 19th all-time meeting between UMBC and Hartford, and the Hawks hold a 14-4 series advantage. The first meeting occurred on Dec. 29, 2002, a 60-47 victory for Hartford at the Saint Joseph's Hawk Classic. The Hawks won the first contest as America East rivals in 2004, but the Retrievers won at home that season, 48-46. Hartford then won six straight, but UMBC got its revenge in the 2007 America East Tournament, stunning the top-seeded and two-time defending champion Hawks, 48-46, in the title game. Hartford then swept the season series in each of the next three years before the Retrievers swept in 2011. As America East rivals, the teams have met twice a year since the Retrievers joined the conference in 2003-04. UMBC is 1-7 all-time at Chase Arena, with the only victory coming two weeks ago. In the teams' last meeting, Feb. 20, 2011, UMBC defeated Hartford, 53-48, at Chase Arena. Junior forward Erin Brown scored 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including 4-of-6 from long distance, while senior guard Michele Brokans tallied a career-high 11 points on a career-best three triples and added six assists. The Retrievers rallied from an eigh-point halftime deficit, and they shot a season-best 56.3 percent from 3-point range with nine treys in the game. Hartford guard Jackie Smith led the Hawks with 13 points, while forward Ruthanne Doherty posted a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. In the teams' first meeting of the season, Jan. 20 at the RAC, UMBC defeated Hartford, 67-60, in double overtime. Junior center Topé Obajolu scored 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, five assists and four blocks. The Retrievers overcame a 12-point second-half deficit and held the Hawks without a field goal in the second overtime period. UMBC shot 48 percent in the game and held Hartford to just 29.9 percent from the floor. The Hawks, however, made 11 triples. The Retrievers dominated inside with 32 points in the paint and a 45-35 rebounding advantage. Kurowski tallied 18 points and added nine rebounds. Guard Daphne Elliott led Hartford with 17 points on five 3-pointers, the only Hawk in double figures.