BALTIMORE--The UMBC women's basketball team (8-6, 0-1 AEC) returns home for the first time in three weeks to host America East rival New Hampshire (3-11, 1-0 AEC) in the Retrievers' league home opener Saturday afternoon. Tip-off from the RAC Arena is set for 4:30 p.m. Watch the action live at UMBCRetrievers.tv.
RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC is coming off an 81-52 loss at preseason league favorite Vermont in Wednesday's America East Conference opener. Freshman forward Erin Brown posted team highs with 13 points and eight rebounds. The Retrievers' eight non-conference victories tie the school's Division I record, and at 8-6 on the season, UMBC has matched its best 14-game start in the program's DI history, as well. Junior guard Carlee Cassidy has scored at least 20 points in 10 of UMBC's 14 games this season. She leads the America East and ranks fifth in the NCAA with 22.1 ppg on the year, and she ranks third all-time at UMBC with 137 career three-pointers.
WILDCAT UPDATE: New Hampshire is 3-11 on the season and coming off a 51-47 home victory over Maine in Tuesday's America East Conference opener. Forward Candace Williams and guard Amy Simpson tallied 18 and 17 points, respectively, while center Racheal Fowler recorded a game-high 11 rebounds. Williams leads the Wildcats with 15.1 ppg and 8.4 rpg on the season, ranking fifth and second in the America East, respectively. New Hampshire was picked to finish seventh in the America East Preseason Coaches Poll.
Who's Up Next: The Retrievers hit the road again to take on defending America East champion Hartford on Tuesday. UMBC is 2-10 all-time against the Hawks, including 0-2 last season, and has never won in five tries at Chase Arena.
Inside the Series...
Saturday's game marks the 11th all-time meeting between UMBC and New Hampshire, and the series is tied, 5-5. The first meeting occurred on Jan. 21, 2004, a 65-54 victory for visiting New Hampshire. The Retrievers took the next meeting a month later, 48-47, at Lundholm Gym, and the teams alternated three-game winning streaks before splitting last season's series. 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. UNH is 3-2 all-time at RAC Arena.
In the teams' last meeting, Feb. 23, 2008, UMBC guard Kristin Drabyn scored 18 of her game-high 24 points in the first half to help the Retrievers take a 42-20 halftime lead, and the Retrievers won, 66-50, at UNH's Lundholm Gymnasium. The Wildcats shot just 26.7 percent in the first half. Guard Carlee Cassidy added 15 points and five steals, and the Retrievers' 13 takeaways tied a season high. UNH forward Denise Beliveau led the Wildcats with 16 points. New Hampshire out-rebounded UMBC, 48-29.
News and Notes...
For Starters: At 8-6, UMBC has matched its best 14-game start in the program's Division I history. Four other teams also started the season 8-6 - 1990-91, 1998-99, 2005-06 and 2006-07. The 1990-91 squad was the only one to win its 15th game of the season. The 1985-86 team was 12-2 after 14 games at the Division II level. In addition, the Retrievers' eight non-conference wins ties the school DI record.
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.
Rookie Ramblings: Freshman forward Erin Brown became the latest first-year Retriever to take home America East Rookie of the Week honors when she averaged 14.0 ppg and 5.0 rpg while shooting 52.2 percent at the Marriott Cavalier Classic. She joins guards Katie Brooks (Weeks 2-3) and Michelle Kurowski (Weeks 4-6), giving UMBC six straight top rookie accolades. Dating to last season, the Retrievers actually won eight of nine awards, as 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.
20/20: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy has scored 20 points or more in 10 of UMBC's first 14 games of the season. Her season-opening five-game streak of 20-point performances was snapped on Nov. 30 with 18 points against UMES, but she put together another five-game streak from Dec. 3-21 before being held to 14 points against Louisiana Tech. 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 fifth in the nation with 22.1 ppg this season. The Retrievers have recorded 17 20-point performances as a team this season, already surpassing last year's total of 15 during the entire 2007-08 campaign, while Cassidy has surpassed her total of eight from last season, as well.
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. Colabella is averaging a team-best 7.5 rpg on the season, including 12.0 rpg in her last four games.
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 six times in 2008-09 after doing it just three times all last year.
If it Ain't Broke: Head coach Phil Stern has used the same starting lineup in all 14 games this season, the most common starting five since 2006-07, when Stern used the same lineup in 25 games, including 21 in a row. Last year, Stern employed seven different lineups, with the most common lasting nine games.
30 Rock: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy (32) and freshman guard Michelle Kurowski (30) became the first pair of UMBC teammates to tally 30 or more 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.
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. With her 31-point performance in the season opener at George Washington and her 32 points against Navy on Dec. 3, Cassidy also became just the second Retriever to score 30 points three times in the same season, joining Tammy McCarthy in 1985-86. Shalayna Johnson (2002-03) is the only other Retriever to tally 30 points twice 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.
Cassidy for Three: 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 now ranks third all-time at UMBC with 137 career triples, while her .329 career three-point percentage ranks fifth. In addition, she ranks second in the America East and 17th in the NCAA with 2.8 three-pointers made per game.
Three's Company: The Retrievers have made at least one 3-pointer in 115 straight games dating to Feb. 5, 2005, and they have made at least four in 60 games in a row dating to Jan. 17, 2007, at Hartford. The Retrievers lead the America East with 6.5 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.
Double Vision: Freshman forward Erin Brown posted career highs with 22 points and 11 rebounds against UMES on Nov. 30. One game later, sophomore forward Meghan Colabella notched her first career double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds against Navy on Dec. 3, and the next game Brown posted another with 10 points and 10 boards against Towson. Colabella then added another with 14 points and 16 rebounds against Loyola on Dec. 21, then added her third two games later with 14 points and a career-high 20 rebounds on Dec. 29 against Rider. However, prior to the UMES game, no Retriever had recorded a double-double since Sharri Rohde tallied 27 points and 10 rebounds on Feb. 20, 2007, at Vermont, a stretch of 41 straight games.
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 throughout the country, 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 51.8 percent (536 of 1,035 points) of UMBC's total offense and 46.6 percent (255 of 547) of its total rebounds, led by guards Michelle Kurowski (15.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and Katie Brooks (9.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg). Kurowski and forward Erin Brown (8.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg) have started all 14 games this season, and Brown ranks second on the team with 30.5 mpg. As a class, the freshmen have played nearly half (1,389) of the Retrievers' 2,800 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 (based on a formula in which seniors represent a value of 3, juniors 2 and sophomores 1), UMBC is the sixth-least-experienced team in the country.
Double Your Pleasure: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy has scored in double figures in 21 straight games dating to Feb. 9, 2008, against Maine, surpassing her 13-game streak of last season, when she reached double digits in 25 out of 28 games. Cassidy's 21-game streak is the longest by a Retriever since Shalayna Johnson's 23-gamer during the 2002-03 campaign. Five Retrievers have posted 45 double-digit perforances this season, including freshman guard Michelle Kurowski, who has reached double figures in all but three games this season.
Hot Shot: The America East's top shooting team at 40.2 percent, UMBC boasts four players among the conference's top 15 in field goal percentage. Freshman forward Erin Brown (.476) ranks third, followed by freshma guard Michelle Kurowski (7th, .438), freshman guard Katie Brooks (12th, .400) and junior guard Carlee Cassidy (14th, .395). Players must average three field goals per game to qualify.
High-Soaring, High-Scoring: UMBC leads the America East and ranks 33rd in the nation in scoring at 73.9 points per game. The Retrievers are the only team in the conference to average more than 70.0 ppg. Junior guard Carlee Cassidy leads the America East and ranks fifth in the NCAA with 22.1 ppg.
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 fourth among the America East's leading scorers. 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 four times, including a pair of 30-point performances against Navy on Dec. 3. The pair has accounted for 50.6 percent of UMBC's total offense this season (524 of 1,035 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.
Climbing the Ranks: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy has moved into UMBC's all-time top-20 scoring list, as she currently ranks 18th with 924 career points. She is on pace to become the 16th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point plateau on Jan. 21 against Albany.
Great 80: UMBC has scored at least 80 points in five of its eight wins this season. 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 five 80-point performances are the most in a season since UMBC tallied at least 80 points six times in 1989-90.
Not Even Close: UMBC's first six games of the season were decided by at least 11 points with an average margin of 18 points before an eight-point victory over Navy on Dec. 3. The Retrievers' eight victories have come by an average of 16.4 points. UMBC defeated George Mason by 29 points (89-60) on Nov. 19, its largest margin of victory since Nov. 23, 2004, an 87-52 win over Morgan State (+35).
Helping Hand: Freshman guard Katie Brooks dished out nine assists against UMES on Nov. 30, the most by a Retriever since Brittnie Hughes recorded nine on Jan. 20, 2007, at New Hampshire. In addition, the Retrievers had 25 assists in the game, the most since posting 26 on Dec. 2, 2006, at Fairleigh Dickinson. Brooks ranks 11th in the America East with 2.6 apg, while sophomore guard Michele Brokans is fourth (3.6 apg). As a team, UMBC ranks second (12.9 apg). For the second year in a row, Brokans is proving it is better to give than to receive, as her 50 assists are more than twice her total field goal attempts on the season (22). Brokans leads the league and ranks seventh in the NCAA in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5).
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. In addition, the 92 points are the most UMBC has scored in a game since Jan. 12, 1991, a 94-61 win over Salisbury State.
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.
Foul Frenzy: UMBC and Northern Illinois combined to commit an NCAA record 64 fouls on the first day of the Seton Hall Basketball Classic 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-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 record of 35 was set on Feb. 1, 1988, against Coppin State. 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 third in the America East with an .807 free throw percentage, while junior guard Carlee Cassidy's .796 ranks fourth. Cassidy's career .789 free throw percentage ranks second all-time at UMBC. The Retrievers finished last season with a school-record .757 shooting percentage from the charity stripe.
Against the America East: UMBC joined the America East in 2003-04, and the Retrievers are 25-60 in five years of America East play. All-time, UMBC is 27-57 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 all-time against former America East member Northeastern, including 1-3 in conference play from 2004-05.
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 billing is the Retrievers' highest since joining the America East in 2003, eclipsing the sixth-place predictions for each of the last two seasons.
Another Honor for Cassidy: Junior guard Carlee Cassidy was selected to the America East Preseason All-Conference Team by the league's nine head coaches. 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 in 2003 after she led the league in scoring with 17.0 ppg.
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.
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.
Speed it Up: In his first six years at the helm, head coach Phil Stern has employed the Princeton Offense, a strategy which emphasizes tempo control, passing and backdoor cuts. However, Stern decided it was time for a change in 2008-09, and the Retrievers will now play up-tempo.
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.
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.
Aye-Aye, Captain: Juniors Melissa Book and Carlee Cassidy and sophomore Michele Brokans have been named team captains for the 2008-09 season. Book is the first Retriever to repeat as team captain since Sharri Rohde and Heather Luttrell served as catpains in 2005-06 and 2006-07, while Brokans is the first sophomore in the position since Rohde in 2004-05.