The UMBC women's basketball team (13-16, 6-10 America East) head to the America East Championships as the seventh seed and will take on No. 2 Stony Brook (18-10, 14-2 America East) in the quarterfinals Friday at 12 p.m. at the Binghamton Events Center. Watch the game live free of charge at www.americaeast.com.
RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC heads into the conference tournament on a two-game losing streak. After dropping the first two games of the season, the Retrievers alternated wins and losses for a month before a 69-61 win at Rider sparked a four-game winning streak. UMBC defeated Boston University on Jan. 4, the first time the Retrievers have ever won their America East opener, but dropped seven of their next nine games, including four straight from Jan. 24-Feb. 7. But a 66-41 win over Albany at home led the Retrievers to winning three out of four games and put them right back in a crowded middle of the pack in the America East standings before they dropped their last two games of the season to finish seventh in the conference. The No. 7 seed is the UMBC's second-highest seed in the America East after taking the fifth slot last season. The Retrievers were the 10th seed in their first two America East Tournaments. UMBC has never won an America East Tournament game, losing the first two seasons to Northeastern before dropping last year's quarterfinals match-up with Binghamton in overtime. UMBC swept the season series from just one conference opponent - New Hampshire - and was swept by Hartford, Stony Brook and Maine. After averaging 76 points in the two pervious games - nearly 16 points more than their season average - the Retrievers were held to just 56 points in a 60-56 loss to Hartford in the regular season finale. UMBC is led by senior forward Sharri Rohde, who is averaging 13.7 ppg and 6.6 rpg, but has come on even stronger of late, averaging 20.7 ppg and 8.3 rpg in her last three contests. Rohde is the only player in the America East to rank in the top 10 in scoring, rebounding and assists, and UMBC is the only team in the league with four players ranking among the league's top 20 scorers, with three averaging in double figures. The Retrievers rank 17th in the country in turnovers.
SEAWOLF UPDATE: Stony Brook (18-10, 14-2) has won seven straight and 14 of its last 15 games, with its only conference losses coming at the hands of league champion Hartford. After going just 4-8 in non-conference action, the Seawolves gained momentum at the right time to claim the second seed in the America East Tournament for the second year in a row. Last season Stony Brook lost to third-seeded Boston University in overtime in the conference semifinals. The Seawolves are coming off a 67-56 comeback victory over Vermont. The Seawolves are led by the senior duo of Mykeema Ford and Jessica Smith, the top two scorers in the conference with 19.3 and 16.5 ppg, respectively. Smith is also the league's top rebounder with 7.6 rpg.
Who's Up Next: A win would send UMBC to the semifinals on Saturday at 5 p.m. The Retrievers will take on the winner of the quarterfinal matchup between top-seeded Hartford and the winner of the first-round game between No. 8 Albany and No. 9 New Hampshire. A second win would put UMBC in the championship game on Sunday at 5 p.m.
Inside the Series: Today's game marks the ninth all-time meeting between UMBC and Stony Brook, and the Seawolves hold a 7-1 series advantage. The first meeting occurred on Jan. 7, 2004, a 53-49 victory for host Stony Brook. The Seawolves took the first four games in the series before UMBC won, 70-48, on Jan. 29, 2006 in Stony Brook. As America East Conference rivals, the teams have met twice a year since 2004. Today's contest is the third meeting of the season for the two programs, and the Seawolves have won both previous matchups. Led by Brittnie Hughes's 15 points, four players scored in double figures for the Retrievers in the first game on Jan. 7 at RAC Arena, but Stony Brook came out on to, 70-62. Mykeema Ford scored a game-high 29 points, while Leah Getz posted a double-double for the Seawolves with 17 points and 12 rebounds. One month later, on Feb. 7 at the SBU Sports Complex, Kelly Watson dropped 29 points for Stony Brook, while UMBC's Amanda Robinson and Kristin Drabyn scored a team-best 13 points apiece. Robinson is averaging a team-best 13.5 ppg against the Seawolves this season.
Game Notes: Today's game is UMBC's 30th of the season, marking only the second time the Retrievers have played 30 games in one year. In 2002-03, UMBC played its 30th game of the season in the finals of the Northeast Conference Tournament. The Retrievers are 2-0 at neutral sites this year after winning both games at the UTPA Battle at the Border Holiday Tournament in Edinburg, Texas Dec. 28-29.
Retrievers Take Fourth Shot at America East Tournament: UMBC is playing in its fourth America East Conference Tournament since joining the league in 2003-04. The Retrievers have never won a game in the America East Championships. UMBC was seeded 10th in the first two years and lost to seventh-seeded Northeastern both times, 55-30 in 2003-04 and 49-48 in 2004-05. Last season, the upstart Retrievers took the league by surprise and finished fifth in the conference but lost to fourth-seeded Binghamton, 72-66, in overtime in the quarterfinals. UMBC's last conference tournament win was during head coach Phil Stern's first season at the helm and the Retrievers' last in the Northeast Conference. Seeded seventh, UMBC stormed past the second and third seeds in Quinnipiac and Monmouth before falling to No. 1 St. Francis (Pa.) in the finals. The Retrievers have never won their conference championship or advanced to the NCAA Tournament. UMBC is 3-14 all-time in Division-I tournament play dating to 1991. The Retrievers' only other tournament victory was in 1994 as members of the Big South, when they were seeded second and defeated No. 7 Coastal Carolina before falling to No. 3 Radford in the semifinals. UMBC has been seeded as high as second twice, in 1991 in the East Coast Conference and in 1994 in the Big South. UMBC has reached the semifinals twice and the finals once during the Division-I era.