BALTIMORE--The UMBC women's basketball team (14-13, 6-8 AEC) hits the road for the final time in the regular season, taking on America East rival Binghamton (11-15, 6-7 AEC) Saturday afternoon. Tip-off from the BU Events Center is set for 2 p.m. With the teams separated by just a half game in the league standings with one week left in the 2008-09 campaign, the winner of Saturday's game will have a leg up on fourth seed for the America East Championships.
RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC is 14-13 on the season and 6-8 in America East play after Wednesday's 92-80 loss at Albany. The Retrievers are a half game behind Binghamton for fourth place in the conference standings. Freshman guard Michelle Kurowski led the Retrievers with 25 points and four steals, while freshman guard Katie Brooks added 15 points and four assists. Junior guard Carlee Cassidy leads the league in scoring at 20.9 ppg on the season, and she currently ranks eighth all-time at UMBC with 1,179 career points. Cassidy has set a number of single-season records in 2008-09, including three-pointers (74) and free throws (154). Sophomore forward Meghan Colabella is tops on the team with 157 rebounds this season, while sophomore point guard Michele Brokans recorded her 100th assist of the year on Wednesday and currently has 104.
BEARCAT UPDATE: Binghamton is 11-15 on the season and 6-7 in America East play after last Saturday's 66-46 victory over Maine, but has not played since. The Bearcats are currenlty in fourth place in the conference standings, a half game ahead of UMBC. Guard Darryll Peterson led all scorers with 17 points and nine rebounds in the game. Freshman guard Andrea Holmes leads the Bearcats with 10.4 ppg on the season, while senior center Laura Franceski is tops on the team with 5.5 rpg, and she leads the league with 3.3 bpg. Binghamton leads the America East in three-point percentage (.343).
Who's Up Next: The Retrievers conclude the regular season against league-leading Boston University on Wednesday, March 4. UMBC is 3-9 all-time against the Terriers, including 1-4 at RAC Arena. Boston U. defeated UMBC, 84-57, in January at Case Gym.
Inside the Series...
Saturday's game marks the 13th all-time meeting between UMBC and Binghamton, and the Bearcats hold an 8-4 series advantage. The first meeting occurred on Jan. 28, 2004, a 61-48 victory for the host Bearcats. Binghamton took the first two contests before the Retrievers won, 50-46, on Jan. 22, 2005, in Vestal. The Bearcats won the next three meetings, including a sweep of the 2008 season series, but UMBC won the first matchup in 2009. As America East rivals, the teams have met twice a year since the 2003-04 season, but had never faced off prior to the Retrievers joining the conference. UMBC is 1-4 all-time in Vestal.
In the teams' last meeting, Jan. 24, 2009, UMBC defeated Binghamton, 78-63 at the RAC Arena. Junior guard Carlee Cassidy scored a game-high 27 points, and freshman forward Erin Brown posted her fourth career double-doiuble with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore point guard Michele Brokans dished out a career-high 10 assists. Binghamton guard Andrea Holmes led three Bearcats in double figures with 14 points.
News and Notes...
For Starters: At 14-13, UMBC has matched its fifth-best 27-game start in the program's Division I history and its seventh-best start ever. The last time the Retrievers won at least 14 of their first 27 games was 2006-07, when they were also 14-13. The 1985-86 team was a program-best 19-8 after 27 games at the Division II level. In addition, the Retrievers' eight non-conference wins ties the school DI record.
14 and Counting: The Retrievers' 95-85 victory over New Hampshire on Jan. 10 was their ninth win of the season, matching their entire win total from the 2007-08 campaign. With 14 victories, UMBC has already posted five more triumphs than all of last season, while the Retrievers' six America East victories surpasses their total of five from 2007-08, as well.
Home Sweet Home: UMBC is 9-3 in games played at the RAC Arena, with its only losses coming on Dec. 21 against Loyola, Feb. 11 against Vermont and Feb. 18 against Hartford. Five other Retriever teams have won at least nine home games, most recently in 2005-06 (9-3), while the 1993-94 squad was a perfect 10-0.
Cassidy at the Line: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy made all 13 of her foul shots on Feb. 21 against Stony Brook, the best-ever perfect game from the charity stripe by a Retriever. The previous record of 12-for-12 was set by Kori Kindbom against Florida on Dec. 31, 1986. In addition, the 13 field goals are tied for the second-most ever in a game behind teammate Katie Brooks, who drained 16 earlier this season. On Feb. 15 at Maine, Cassidy set UMBC's single-season records for free throws (now 154) and attempts (now 190). Her .811 free throw percentage on the season ranks third in the conference and is the fifth-best ever by a Retriever, while her .799 career percentage ranks second all-time at UMBC. Cassidy has made 22 straight free throws dating to Feb. 15 at Maine.
Cassidy for Three: With one three-pointer against Vermont on Feb. 11, junior guard Carlee Cassidy broke a tie with former teammate Kristin Drabyn to take sole possesion of the all-time school record, and she now has with 172 career triples. In addition, she broke UMBC's career mark for three-point attempts at New Hampshire on Feb. 10 and now has 524. Cassidy also became the fourth Retriever ever to drain 70 treys in a season, and after sinking one against Stony Brook last Saturday, she took sole possession of the school record with 74 on the year. In addition, Cassidy has moved into the America East's top five for three-pointers made in a season, as well, now ranking third. Boston University's Kristi Dini broke the conference mark last week with her 77th on the year.
Cassidy for Three, Part II: The second of junior guard Carlee Cassidy's career-high six 3-pointers in the season opener at George Washington was the 100th of her career, making her just the seventh player in UMBC history to reach that milestone. In addition, she is the third-fastest Retriever ever to hit the century mark, as she did it in her 60th career game. Jami Lange (39 games) and Ana Goncharova (56 games) are the only other Retrievers to need less than 70 contests to achieve the mark. Cassidy ranks second in the America East and sixth in the NCAA with 2.9 three-pointers made per game.
Join the Club: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy became the 16th Retriever ever to score 1,000 points in her career with a three-pointer late in the second half against Albany on Jan. 21, her 77th career game. She is the fourth-fastest Retriever to reach the milestone, as only Tammy McCarthy, Felice Pinkney and Kori Kindbom needed less games to accomplish the feat, and she is also only the third Retriever ever to score her 1,000th point during her junior season, joining McCarthy and Kindbom. Cassidy was the third player to reach the mark in the America East this season, as Vermont's Courtnay Pilypaitis and Boston University's Jesyka Burks-Wiley each did so earlier in the 2008-09 campaign. With 33 points against Boston U. on Jan. 28, Cassidy moved into UMBC's all-time top 10 scoring leaders and now ranks eighth with 1,179 points.
Join the Club, Part II: With 10 points against Vermont on Feb. 11, junior guard Carlee Cassidy became just the third Retriever to score 500 points in a season, and she now ranks second among UMBC's all-time single-season leaders with 564 on the year. Cassidy's 477 points in 2007-08 ranks as the sixth-best mark ever.
Milestone Wins: The Retrievers' 78-63 victory over Binghamton on Jan. 24 was the 400th win in UMBC women's basketball history. The Retrievers' 95-85 win over New Hampshire on Jan. 10 was the 250th in the program's Division I history.
Rookie Ramblings: With forward Erin Brown's recognition as the America East's top rookie on Jan. 26, UMBC freshmen have won seven of 12 Rookie of the Week awards this season, and nine of the last 15 dating to last season. Katie Brooks (2), Michelle Kurowski (3) and Brown (1) combined to win six in a row between Weeks 2-7, while forward Meghan Colabella was selected in each of the last two weeks of the 2007-08 campaign. Kurowski is the first America East freshman to win three straight Rookie of the Week awards since Vermont's Courtnay Pilypaitis did it five weeks in a row from Dec. 24, 2006-Jan. 22, 2007. In addition, the last time one team has dominated the Rookie of the Week award was in 2006-07 when Pilypaitis and teammates May Kotsopoulos and Sofia Iwobi took home 10 honors, including nine of 10 from Nov. 19, 2006-Jan. 22, 2007. However, the six straight for UMBC marks the most consecutive rookie honors for one school in America East history.
Special K: Freshman guard Michelle Kurowski is the ninth-leading freshman scorer in the nation with 13.6 ppg. She is beginning to move up UMBC's all-time lists for freshmen, as she ranks second in free throws (82), fourth in 3-pointers (36) and points (368), fifth in scoring and field goals (125) and eighth in steals (41).
20/20: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy has scored 20 points or more in 19 of UMBC's first 27 games of the season, but her career-best six-game 20-point streak was snapped on Feb. 11 against Vermont. She opened the season with five straight 20-point performances, and she put together another five-game streak from Dec. 3-21. Cassidy is the first Retriever to score at least 20 points in at least five consecutive games since Shalayna Johnson accomplished the feat in six straight games from Jan. 11-30, 2003. Cassidy leads the America East and ranks eighth in the nation with 20.9 ppg this season. The Retrievers have recorded 29 20-point performances as a team this season, surpassing last year's total of 15, while Cassidy has more than doubled her total of eight from last season, as well.
Three's Company: The Retrievers have made at least one 3-pointer in 128 straight games dating to Feb. 5, 2005, and they have made at least four in 73 games in a row dating to Jan. 17, 2007, at Hartford. The Retrievers lead the America East with 6.1 three-pointers per game this season. The Retrievers' 223 three-pointers as a team last year broke the school and America East Conference record; it was just the second time in school history that a team has reached the 200 plateau and the first time ever for the conference (the Retrievers were in the Northeast Conference when they made 217 three-pointers in 2002-03). Each of the top six season totals have occurred during head coach Phil Stern's tenure.
30 Rock: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy (32) and freshman guard Michelle Kurowski (30) became the first pair of UMBC teammates to tally 30 points in the same game on Dec. 3 against Navy. It is believed to be the fifth time in Division I history that that two teammates scored at least 30 points in the same game and the first time since Prudue's Shereka Wright (34) and Katie Geralds (32) did so at at Iowa on Feb. 10, 2004. Prior to that, it had not happened since 1994.
30 Rock, Part II: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy's 33 points against Loyola on Dec. 21 were the most by a Retriever since Ana Goncharova also tallied 33 against New Hampshire on Jan. 29, 2005, and ties the sixth-highest single-game total in school history. Cassidy then matched that mark against Boston U. on Jan. 28. With her 31-point performance in the season opener at George Washington and her 32 points against Navy on Dec. 3, Cassidy also became the first Retriever to score 30 points four times in the same season. Tammy McCarthy (3x, 1985-86) and Shalayna Johnson (2x, 2002-03) are the only other Retrievers to tally 30 points more than once in a season. Prior to the GW game, no Retriever had scored 30 points since Goncharova in 2005. Freshman guard Michelle Kurowski is just the third Retriever rookie to score as many as 30 points in a game, joining McCarthy and Jami Lange. UMBC's four 30-point individual efforts this season are the most ever in school history.
Helping Hand: Sophomore point guard Michele Brokans ranks sixth among all-time Retriever sophomores with 104 assists on the year. She dished out a career-high 10 assists - including nine in the first half - against Binghamton on Jan. 24, the most helpers by a Retriever since Brittnie Hughes recorded 12 against Texas State on Dec. 29, 2006. The 10 assists also ties the eighth-highest single-game total in UMBC history and marks the 14th double-digit assist effort ever by a Retriever. She ranks fourth in the America East with 3.9 apg on the season, but she is averaging 4.3 apg in 14 conference games, also the fourth-best mark. In addition, Brokans ranks second in the league and 22nd in the NCAA in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.9), as she has committed just 55 miscues while recording 104 assists. For the second year in a row, Brokans is proving it is better to give than to receive, as her 104 helpers are nearly three times her total field goal attempts on the season (38).
December to Remember: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy earned honorable mention from the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) for the organization's National Player of the Month award. Cassidy averaged 23.3 points per game in seven December contests, posting five straight 20-point performances to start the month, including two 30-point efforts. It is the second honorable mention accolade from the WBCA of Cassidy's career, as she also garnered recognition in December 2007.
Board Games: Freshmen Erin Brown and Michelle Kurowski each grabbed 10 rebounds against Maine on Jan. 17, marking the first time two Retrievers have recorded double-digit caroms in the same game since Amanda Robinson (12) and Sharri Rohde (10) did it on Dec. 2, 2006 at Fairleigh Dickinson.
Cleaning the Glass: Sophomore forward Meghan Colabella grabbed a career-high 20 rebounds on Dec. 29 against Rider, the most boards by a Retriever since Monica Logan pulled down 23 against Mount St. Mary's on Jan. 28, 1999. It was the 14th 20-rebound effort in UMBC history and tied the program's 10th-highest single-game total. The last 20-rebound performance in the America East occurred on March 11, 2006, by Boston University's Jesyka Burks-Wiley. In addition, it is one of just 33 20-rebound performances in the NCAA this season. Colabella is averaging a team-best 6.6 rpg on the year, the fifth-best mark in the America East.
Cleaning the Glass, Part II: The Retrievers posted a season-high 56 rebounds on Dec. 29 against Rider, their first 50-carom game in recent memory. The 56 boards are a conference-high this season, as well. UMBC has recorded at least 40 rebounds 11 times in 2008-09 after doing it just three times all last year.
Double-Double Vision: After not posting a double-double for 41 straight games from Feb. 20, 2007-Nov.29, 2008, the Retrievers have recorded eight this season, with four by freshman forward Erin Brown, three by sophomore forward Meghan Colabella and one from freshman center Topé Obajolu. Brown's 22 points and 11 rebounds against UMES on Nov. 30 snapped UMBC's double-double drought, and Colabella notched the first of her career with 12 points and 11 rebounds in the next game. Obajolu's first career double-double occurred on Jan. 10 against New Hampshire with 15 points and 11 boards, both career highs.
Double Your Pleasure: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy's 31-game double-figure scoring streak, which dated to Feb. 9, 2008, against Maine, was snapped last Wednesday when Hartford held her to just four points. Seven Retrievers have posted 77 double-digit perforances this season, including freshman forward Erin Brown, who has scored at least 10 points in 11 of the last 17 games and freshman guard Michelle Kurowski, who has done it in five of six.
New Kids on the Block: Nine newcomers join the Retrievers this season, including eight freshmen and one junior college transfer. The group makes up the largest recruiting class in head coach Phil Stern's tenure, surpassing the six new players from 2007-08. Among the group are two 2,000-point scorers and two 1,000-point scorers, as well as a junior college Honorable Mention All-American. Based on responses from sports information directors, the freshman class is tied with Northeastern for the second-largest in the nation. Only Elon (9) has more freshmen on its current roster.
New Kids on the Block, Part II: UMBC's eight freshmen have accounted for 52.0 percent (995 of 1,914 points) of UMBC's total offense and 44.4 percent (464 of 1,046) of its total rebounds, led by Michelle Kurowski (13.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg), Erin Brown (9.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and Katie Brooks (9.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg). Kurowski and Brown have both started at least 25 games this season and rank second and third on the team in minutes played. As a class, the freshmen have played nearly half (2,585) of the Retrievers' 5,400 total minutes.
Fresh Faces: With a roster that includes eight freshmen and five sophomores, UMBC also boasts the second-most underclassmen (13) of any Division I school in the country. Only Brigham Young (14) has more. In addition, with just eight years of returning Division I experience (with seniors representing a value of 3, juniors 2 and sophomores 1), UMBC is the sixth-least-experienced team in the country.
New York, New York: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy (Syracuse) and freshman guard Michelle Kurowski (Hicksville), both natives of New York, are providing a stellar one-two punch for the Retrievers, as they rank first and sixth in scoring in the America East. Cassidy and Kurowski each scored more than 2,000 points in their prep careers, ranking among the best all-time in the state of New York. This season they have each tallied 20 or more points in the same game five times, including a pair of 30-point performances against Navy on Dec. 3. The duo has accounted for 48.7 percent of UMBC's total offense this season (932 of 1,914 points).
Honor Roll: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy was tabbed America East Player of the Week on Dec. 8, making it a clean sweep for UMBC in Week 4, as freshman guard Michelle Kurowski earned the conference's top rookie honor that week, as well. It was Cassidy's fourth career Player of the Week award but first since January 2008.
Honor Roll, Part II: Sophomore forward Meghan Colabella was selected to the Marriott Cavalier Classic All-Tournament Team after averaging 12.5 ppg and 14.0 rpg in two games. A month earlier at the Iona Thanksgiving Classic, freshman guard Katie Brooks was named MVP, while junior guard Carlee Cassidy and freshman guard Michelle Kurowski both earned All-Tournament Team honors. Brooks averaged 18.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg and 5.0 apg and shot 56.5 percent. Cassidy scored a tournament-high 19.5 ppg on 44.4 percent shooting and added 3.0 apg and 2.0 spg. Kurowski posted 16.5 ppg and 6.0 rpg while shooting 50 percent from the floor. The previous week, Cassidy and Brooks were both selected to the Seton Hall Basketball Classic All-Tournament Team. Cassidy averaged 22.0 ppg and shot 41.4 percent in two games, while Brooks averaged 21.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.5 apg and 2.0 spg while shooting 50.0 percent.
Great 80: UMBC has scored at least 80 points in six of its 14 wins this season and is averaging 80.5 ppg in victories. Prior to this year, the Retrievers had not scored 80 points in a game since Feb. 20, 2007, at Vermont and had not posted back-to-back 80-point performances since Feb. 14-17, 1990. The six 80-point performances are the most in a season since UMBC tallied at least 80 points six times in 1989-90.
Nifty 90: With 92 points against UMES on Nov. 30, the Retrievers reached the 90-point plateau for the first time since a 91-89 overtime victory over Charleston Southern on Jan. 16, 1993. With their 95 points against New Hampshire on Jan. 10, the Retrievers have scored 90 points twice in the same season for the first time since 1989-90. The 95 points tied UMBC's Division I record, as the Retrievers also scored 95 points against Coppin State on Feb. 1, 1988.
Against the America East: UMBC joined the America East in 2003-04, and the Retrievers are 31-67 in six years of America East play. All-time, UMBC is 33-64 against its current America East opponents, including games played against them before they were conference rivals, as well as games played in the America East Championships, which do not count as league games. The Retrievers are also 1-5 alltime against former America East member Northeastern, including 1-3 in conference play from 2004-05.
Tale of Two Halves: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy did not score in the first half against Western Michigan on Nov. 29, but she tallied 21 points in the second period to keep both her 20-point streak and her double-figure scoring streak alive. However, it was not the best-scoring half by a Retriever this season, as Cassidy posted 23 points in the first period in the season opener at George Washington en route to 31 points in the game. Freshman guard Michelle Kurowski is the only other Retriever to score 20 points in a half this season, as she tallied exactly 20 against Navy on Dec. 3 en route to a career-high 30 points in the game, while Cassidy also notched 21 in the second half at New Hampshire on Feb. 8.
Foul Frenzy: UMBC and Northern Illinois combined to commit an NCAA record 64 fouls on Nov. 21. The previous record of 57 was set by IPFW and Detroit on Jan. 9, 2008. The Retrievers and Huskies combined to go 59-for-81 from the foul line. The Retrievers scored 49 points in the second half but made just nine field goals, as they made 28 free throws in the period.
Charity Case: The Retrievers made a school- and America East Conference-record 41 free throws on Nov. 21 against Northern Illinois and shot 77.4 percent from the line in the game (41-for-53). The previous school record of 35 was set on Feb. 1, 1988, against Coppin State, while the league record of 40 was set by Delaware in 1999. Freshman guard Katie Brooks also set a school record by making 16 (of 22) foul shots. The previous mark of 13 was set twice, by Kori Kindbom (March 1, 1985) and Tammy McCarthy (Jan. 7, 1986). Freshman guard Michelle Kurowski ranks second in the America East with an .820 free throw percentage, while junior guard Carlee Cassidy's .811 ranks third. The Retrievers finished last season with a school-record .757 shooting percentage from the charity stripe.
Double Duty: Freshman forward Sarah Hill joined the Retrievers during the last week in November. Hill, 6-3, spent the fall season with UMBC's volleyball team and averaged 1.79 kills and 1.01 blocks per game as a middle blocker and outside hitter. She is the second volleyball player to join the women's basketball roster this season, as 6-3 freshman center Iman Kennedy will also pull double duty. Kennedy is a middle blocker who averaged 1.32 kpg and 0.97 bpg this season.
Retrievers Picked Fifth: The Retrievers were selected to finish fifth in the America East in a vote of the conference's nine head coaches, the Retrievers' highest billing since joining the America East in 2003, eclipsing the sixth-place predictions each of the last two years.
Another Honor for Cassidy: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy was selected to the America East Preseason All-Conference Team. She is the first Retriever ever to receive the honor in UMBC's six seasons in the America East. Last year, Cassidy became UMBC's first-ever All-Conference First Team selection since joining the league after she led the league with 17.0 ppg.
Shall We Dance: The Retrievers will face five teams that advanced to the 2008 postseason. George Washington (Nov. 15), Coppin State (Dec. 8) and Hartford (Jan. 13/Feb. 18) competed in the NCAA Tournament, while James Madison (Dec. 18) and Vermont (Jan. 7/Feb. 11) participated in the WNIT.
Bragging Rights: UMBC took on five of the nine Division I schools in the state of Maryland this season. The Retrievers hosted Navy (Dec. 3), Towson (Dec. 6), Coppin State (Dec. 8) and Loyola (Dec. 21) and faced UMES at the Iona Thanksgiving Classic (Nov. 30). UMBC also faced nearby George Washington (Nov. 15) and George Mason (Nov. 19) from the Washington, D.C., area. The Retrievers went 5-2 against those teams. UMBC defeated Towson for the first time since 2002, Coppin State for the first time since 1989 and George Mason for the first time ever.
Retrievers Ink Two: Two players have signed National Letters of Intent to join the Retrievers for the 2009-10 season. Shamika Williams is a 5-8 guard from nearby Catonsville High School who was named the Baltimore County Player of the Year after averaging 17.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg and 4.5 apg as a junior. Kim Browning is a 6-2 guard/forward from Hanover High School in Mechanicsville, Va., who was named one of the top 50 seniors in Virginia by Virginia Preps after averaging 10.5 ppg and 5.1 rpg last season.