Baltimore, Md. - The UMBC women's basketball team announced its 2006-07 schedule on Friday as the Retrievers will host 13 home games, including two live television games on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN). UMBC opens the season at George Washington on Friday, November 10 and hosts Coppin State on Tuesday, November 14 as the Retrievers open the year with back-to-back NCAA Tournament participants from last year. The America East Conference, which finished 11th last year in the final conference RPI poll, will open league play on Thursday, January 4.
"This year's schedule will challenge our team early but will be a welcomed challenge to prepare us for the America East Conference," UMBC head coach Phil Stern said. "We expect the league to be very competitive this year with every night a challenge. Last year we opened league play with five of six on the road and hope this year with three early home conference contests we can get off to a good start and build momentum early."
George Washington last year was ranked No. 25 in the nation in the final ESPN/USA Today Coaches after the Colonials earned the seventh seed in their fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament berth and advanced to the second round before being ousted by Tennessee. The Colonials will be the Retrievers biggest challenge to open a season since UMBC opened the 1993-94 campaign at North Carolina.
Following the season opener against George Washington, the Retrievers return home to RAC Arena where they will host Coppin State, Loyola (Md.), Towson and New Jersey Tech in four consecutive home games. Coppin State held a 21-game winning streak that was snapped after losing to Connecticut in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
UMBC's games against Coppin State and Towson will begin at 5 p.m. and broadcast live on MASN. UMBC will also take on American, Fairleigh Dickinson, Navy, Longwood, Mount St. Mary's and Rider in non-conference action.
UMBC concludes the non-conference portion of its schedule at the Texas Pan American Battle at the Border Holiday Tournament on December 28-29. UMBC will play Texas A&M-Corpu Christi on the December 28 and Texas State on the 29th. Both games are slated for a 5 p.m. Central Standard Time start.
UMBC's start to the conference season will be just as much of a challenge as the start to the season with the Retrievers playing the top-four finishers from last year in the first five games. UMBC begins league play at home with Boston U. and Stony Brook, the number three and two seeds from last year, respectively. Following a trip to Albany, UMBC hosts Binghamton at home, the number four seed from last year and travels to two-time defending champion Hartford.
Five of UMBC's final eight games are on the road, including a trip to Vermont and Maine in the same week. The Retrievers upon return from Maine will have a bye during the week before hosting Hartford in the final game of the regular season, a game which could have significant impact on both schools seeding and championship aspirations. That night will be emotional as the Retrievers bid farewell to seniors Sharri Rohde, Brittnie Hughes and Heather Luttrell. The trio came to UMBC as the first recruiting class for coach Stern and UMBC's inaugural season in the America East Conference.
The America East schedule consists of 16 conference games per team with each team playing the entire league twice in a home and away format. The final standings at the end of the regular season determine seeding for the nine team conference tournament held at the Events Center on the campus of Binghamton University. The America East Conference Tournament will take place March 8-11 with the winner receiving the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.