BALTIMORE – UMBC women's basketball jump starts the 2013-14 campaign in the first of two UMBC basketball games at the RAC Arena on Monday, Nov. 11. The Retriever women open the night with a 5 p.m. matchup against Eastern (Pa.), followed by the black and gold's men team taking on the Eagles' men's team at 7:30 p.m. inside the RAC Arena. All the live action can be seen on UMBCRetrievers.tv courtesy of the America East digital network.
SCOUTING THE RETRIEVERS: Head coach Phil Stern enters his 12th season at the helm of the Retrievers' program, after leading UMBC to its second highest seeding in the America East Championship a year ago. The Retrievers' leader enters the season 13 victories away from becoming the program's all-time winningest coach, a mark Sue Furnary captured while coaching the black and gold from 1980-1993 and posting a 152-193 record.
The Retrievers own the youngest roster in the America East, as the squad features nine newcomers, while returning one senior and trio of sophomores. UMBC returns eight percent of its scoring from a year ago and have a combined 21 Division I starts, all coming from senior captain Dana Lewis. Lewis averaged career-bests in points (3.0) and rebounds (4.0) a season ago, despite battling injuries. Lewis, who tallied a career-best three blocks after returning from injury to play 14 minutes in the AEC quarterfinal contest, led the team in shooting percentage (.455) in 2012-13. Also returning to the Retrievers' lineup are sophomores Bridget O'Donnell, Liz McNaughton and Katrina Hutzell. The trio each averaged under 10 minutes per game in their rookie campaign a season ago. McNaughton averaged 2.1 rebounds and 1.8 points in her 16 appearances.
UMBC was picked to finish seventh in the America East Coaches' Preseason poll, its lowest preseason pick since voted ninth prior to the 2005-06 season. Albany (64) was unanimously selected as the league favorite, receiving 64 votes after going unbeaten in America East play and winning its second-straight conference title a year ago. Hartford, who made the America East title game last year, came in 10 votes shy of the Great Danes. Stony Brook welcomes back a pair of starters to enjoy its highest selection since 2006-07 with a No. 3 ranking. Standing at a close fourth with 46 points and one first-place vote is New Hampshire. Vermont (30), Maine (27), UMBC (24) and Binghamton (23) all came within seven votes of each other, while newcomer UMass Lowell rounded out the poll in the ninth spot with eight votes.
SCOUTING THE EAGLES: Eastern's fourth-year head coach Nate Davis returns four of his five starters from a year ago. Last year's squad posted a 10-16 overall record, including a 6-8 mark in conference play to finish fourth in the Freedom Conference. Eastern advanced to the league semifinals, before falling to top-seeded FDU-Florham, 67-52. The Eagles return Freedom Conference First Team selection Meghan Nowak for her junior campaign, after leading the squad in scoring and rebounding a year ago. Nowak finished second in the league in rebounding, fifth in scoring and eighth in blocked shots.
INSIDE THE SERIES: UMBC welcomes Eastern to the RAC Arena for the second straight season. The Eagles traveled to the RAC Arena for the first time in program history last season, falling to the Retrievers, 78-40.
LAST TIME OUT AGAINST THE EAGLES:UMBC had three players finish in double-figures, including a game-high 16 points off the bench from Bria White. The Retrievers shot 40.7 percent from the floor and held a 38-2 advantage in points in the paint. The Eagles connected on 10-of-22 (.455) three-point attempts, but were able to score just four two-point field goals in the contest.
ON THE HORIZON FOR THE RETRIEVERS: The Retrievers continue on with a busy first week of the season, traveling to local-rival Coppin State on Wednesday, Nov. 13, followed by a home contest against UMES on Saturday, Nov. 16. Three of UMBC's first four games of the season are played on its home court, but the Retrievers finish out the month with four consecutive games away from the RAC Arena, including a pair of games in the Navy Classic on Nov. 29 and 30.