April 14, 2011

Women’s Basketball Postseason Notebook: Kurowski Finishes Sixth in Nation in Free Throw Percentage

BALTIMORE—With the 2010-11 season now in the books, UMBC junior guard Michelle Kurowski (Hicksville, N.Y./Hicksville) finished the campaign ranked sixth in the NCAA with an .894 free throw percentage, a school record and the third-best ever in the America East.

Kurowski made 118 of 132 foul shots to finish just percentage points behind fifth-place Casey Garrison of Missouri State (.898). Samford's Emily London led the nation with a .936 clip.

Kurowski's .848 career free throw percentage ranks second all-time at UMBC, and she owns three of the top seven single-season marks. This is the second year in a row that Kurowski has led the America East in free throw percentage, as her .822 clip in 2009-10 was also tops in the league.

As a team, the Retrievers led the America East and ranked 45th in the NCAA with a .735 free throw percentage, the third-best mark in school history.

Retrievers Rank Among Nation's Top Defenses: UMBC finished the 2010-11 season ranked 16th in the NCAA in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to a .352 clip, and ranked 33rd in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 56.0 points per game – the second-best mark in school history.

Opponents shot less than 40 percent against the Retrievers in 25 of 32 contests, including less than 30 percent seven times, and they scored 60 points or less 24 times.

UMBC Voted 27th in CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Poll: The Retrievers received 33 points in the finalCollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll, good for 27th in the nation, just nine points behind Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan, who are tied for 25th. UMBC consistently received votes in the poll over the final six weeks of the season.

Green Bay, which posted a 34-2 record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16, was the top-ranked team in the poll. At No. 8, WNIT champion Toledo was UMBC's only opponent to finish in the top 25.

The Mid-Major Poll is made up of teams from the following conferences: America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial Athletic Association, Great West, Horizon League, Independents, Ivy League, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot League, Southern, Southland, Southwestern, Summit, Sun Belt and West Coast.

UMBC Wins 20 Games, America East Regular-Season Title: UMBC finished the 2010-11 season 20-12 overall and 13-3 in America East play to win its first-ever America East regular-season title. The Retrievers took the league by surprise, posting 10 wins in their last 11 games after being picked to finish fifth in the preseason poll. Top-seeded UMBC fell to fourth-seeded and eventual champion Hartford in the America East semifinals, but the Retrievers earned the conference's automatic berth to the Women's National Invitation Tournament, where they took on the University of Florida.

UMBC's 20 wins match the school record, which was set by the 1985-86 squad. It was the Retrievers' first winning season since 2005-06, when they went 15-13. In addition, UMBC's 13 America East victories were its most ever in its eight seasons in the conference. Prior to this season, the Retrievers had not won more than seven America East contests (7-9 in 2006 and 2010) or finished higher than tied for fourth (2010).

Stern Named Coach of the Year, Trio Earns All-Conference Honors: Head coach Phil Stern was named America East Coach of the Year after guiding the Retrievers to seven more victories than in 2009-10, when they posted a 13-17 overall record. In addition, after starting this season 1-5, Stern's team finished strong, going 19-7 over the last 26 games. Stern is the first UMBC women's basketball coach to be named Coach of the Year since Kathy Solano in 1994 in the Big South.

Kurowski and junior forward Erin Brown (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman) were both selected to the America East All-Conference First Team, while junior center Topé Obajolu (Randallstown,Md./Archbishop Carroll) was tabbed to the Third Team and the All-Defensive Team. Kurowski and Brown ranked second and third in the conference in scoring with 14.6 points per game and 14.3 ppg, respectively, while Obajolu averaged 10.6 ppg and led the league in blocked shots.

Kurowski and Brown gave the Retrievers two players on the America East first team for the first time ever;Carlee Cassidy in 2008 is the only other Retriever ever to earn first-team honors in the America East. In addition, with Obajolu's inclusion on the third team, UMBC placed three players on all-conference squads for the first time in its eight seasons in the America East, and she is just the second Retriever ever to be named to the all-defensive team, joining Sharri Rohde in 2007.

Milestones Achieved: Several Retrievers reached career milestones during the 2010-11 campaign, including: