Women's Basketball Looks to Stay Hot at Maine Sunday

Maine native Chelsea Barker
Maine native Chelsea Barker

Jan. 9, 2011: UMBC at Maine Gamenotes

BALTIMORE--Winners of six of its last eight games, the UMBC women's basketball team (7-7, 1-0 AE) visits America East rival Maine (2-12, 0-2 AE) Sunday afternoon. Tipoff from Alfond Arena is set for 12 p.m.

RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC won for the sixth time in eight games on Monday with a 65-52 victory at America East rival Stony Brook in the league opener. Junior guard Michelle Kurowski and junior forward Erin Brown each scored 19 points to lead the Retrievers. Kurowski also pulled down a team-best eight rebounds. UMBC's three juniors - Brown, Kurowski and center Topé Obajolu - have accounted for 67.8 percent of the Retrievers' offense this season, and all three rank among the top 15 scorers in the America East, led by Kurowski's league-best 14.6 ppg. Kurowski became the 17th Retriever ever to reach 1,000 career points on Monday. She also leads the conference with an .862 free throw percentage, while Obajolu is tops in the league with 1.8 blocks per game. UMBC ranks among the America East's defensive leaders, holding opponents to a .366 shooting percentage, which ranks second, while allowing just 59.0 points per game, which ranks third. In addition, the Retrievers lead the league with a .391 field goal percentage.

BLACK BEAR UPDATE: Maine is 2-12 on the season and 0-2 in America East play following a 73-43 loss at Hartford on Wednesday. Guard Ashleigh Roberts scored a game-high 18 points, while forward Sharek Maner pulled down a team-best eight rebounds. Guard Amber Smith is averaging a team-best 11.4 points per game, while guard Katelyn Vanderhoff leads the Black Bears with 5.4 ppg. Maine is allowing a league-high 74.6 ppg this season. The Black Bears were picked to finish eighth in the America East preseason poll.

Who's Up Next: The Retrievers return home for just the second time since Dec. 7 to host America East rival Binghamton on Wednesday, Jan. 12. The Bearcats are 8-6 this season and will host New Hampshire on Sunday before visiting UMBC. Binghamton, which was picked to finish third in the America East, leads the all-time series with the Retrievers, 12-4, and has won the last four meetings between the two teams.

Inside the Series...

Sunday's game marks the 15th all-time meeting between UMBC and Maine, and the Black Bears hold an 8-6 series advantage. The first meeting occurred on Jan. 24, 2004, a 60-45 victory for the visiting Black Bears. Maine won the first five contests between the two teams before the Retrievers picked up their first victory, a 60-47 win at the RAC Arena, on Feb. 22, 2006. The Black Bears then took the next three meetings, but UMBC has won the last five. As America East rivals, the teams have met twice a year since the Retrievers joined the conference in 2003-04 but never met previously. UMBC is 2-5 all-time in Orono. Junior Forward Erin Brown has averaged

13.8 ppg and 6.0 rpg while shooting 50.0 percent in four contests against the Black Bears.

In the last meeting between the two teams, Feb. 7, 2010, UMBC defeated Maine, 57-45, at RAC Arena. UMBC center Topé Obajolu and guard Katie Brooks scored 16 points apiece, whiel guard Carlee Cassidy added 15. Maine guard Katelyn Vanderhoff led the Black Bears with 14 points, while forward Samantha Wheeler tallied nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds. The Retrievers shot 50.0 percent from the floor and held Maine to just 32.1 percent shooting.

News And Notes...

For Starters: At 7-7, UMBC opens the season with at least seven wins in its first 14 games for the fourth time in the last six seasons but the first since 2008-09. The Retrievers have been hot over the last six weeks with six wins in their last eight contests, and they are riding a three-game winning streak.

For Starters, Part II: UMBC's 65-52 win over Stony Brook on Monday was its second-ever in an America East opener and first since defeating Boston University in 2007, the year the Retrievers won the conference title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

Silver Anniversary: UMBC is celebrating its 25th season at the Division I level. Since 1986-97, the Retrievers have posted a 275-415 record.

Join the Club: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski became the 17th member of UMBC's 1,000-point club with a layup late in the second half at Stony Brook on Monday. She reached the milestone in her 74th career game, making her the third-fastest Retriever to accomplish the feat, as only Tammy McCarthy and Felice Pinkney needed less games. In addition, she is only the fourth Retriever ever to score her 1,000th point during her junior season, joining McCarthy, Kori Kindbom and former teammate Carlee Cassidy.

Junior Circuit: UMBC's three juniors have accounted for 67.8 percent of the team's scoring this season (535 of 789 points). Guard Michelle Kurowski leads the Retrievers with 14.6 points per game, followed by forward Erin Brown (13.3 ppg) and center Topé Obajolu (10.4 ppg). All three rank among the top 15 scorers in the America East, as Kurowski leads the leauge, while Brown is tied for fourth and Obajolu is 13th. The trio combined to score all but eight of UMBC's 56 points on Dec. 7 against Towson, as Kurowski scored 17 points, Obajolu 16 and Brown 15.

Board Games: Senior forward Meghan Colabella is 15 rebounds shy of becoming the 14th Retriever ever to reach 500 in her career and the first since Sharri Rohde joined the club in 2006-07. Colabella is averaging 4.4 rebounds per game this season and pulled down a season-high 11 boards against Brown on Nov. 28 while notching her first double-double of the season and the sixth of her career.

Special K: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski is averaging an America East-best 14.6 points per game on the season. She has averaged 13.5 points per game in her career, the fourth-best career scoring average in school history, and she has ranked in the top 10 in the America East in scoring each of her first three seasons, the first player to do so since Vermont's Courtnay Pilypaitis in 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09. She was named America East Player of the Week on Nov. 29 after averaging 19.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game in three contests. It was the third such award of her career after earning it twice last season. She has scored 20 or more points four times this season, including three straight from Nov. 27-Dec. 4.

Hit the Road, Jack: Today's game at Maine is UMBC's fifth road contest in its last six games. UMBC's lone home game in that span was Dec. 29 against Loyola. The Retrievers are 2-5 away from the RAC this season but return home on Wednesday.

Streaking: UMBC has won three straight games dating to Dec. 21, the Retrievers' second three-game winning streak this season, as they also won three in arow from Nov. 28-Dec. 7. UMBC's only two losses separating those streaks were to ACC powers Maryland and Virginia. Prior to this season, the Retrievers' last three-game winning streak was Nov. 24-Dec. 2, 2009.

Double Your Pleasure: Five of UMBC's six returning players have scored in double figures at least five times in their careers, led by junior guard Michelle Kurowski, who has achieved the feat in 48 of her 74 career games. So far this season, seven Retrievers have combined for 35 double-digit efforts, led by junior forward Erin Brown, who has scored at least 10 points in 12 of 14 games to start the year, though her career-high six-game streak was snapped on Dec. 21 at Navy. Four Retrievers reached double figures in the same game on Dec. 29 against Loyola for the first time since Jan. 18, 2010, against Binghamton.

Tenacious D: UMBC ranks second in the America East in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to a .366 clip, and ranks third in scoring defense, allowing just 59.0 points per game. Opponents have shot less than 40 percent against UMBC in 11 of 14 contests this season and have scored less than 60 points in all seven of the Retrievers' wins, including a season-low 48 points by Towson on Dec. 7. 

Century Mark: UMBC's 65-52 victory over Stony Brook on Monday was head coach Phil Stern's 100th win at the Retriever helm, making him just the second head coach in UMBC women's basketball history to reach the century mark. Sue Furnary posted a 152-193 record in 13 seasons from 1980-93; Stern is 100-151 in nine seasons since the 2002-03 campaign.

Ol' Reliable: Junior forward Erin Brown has been the Retrievers' most consistent player this season. She has scored in double figures in 12 of the first 14 games this season, though her career-high six-game double-figure streak was snapped on Dec. 21 at Navy.

Block Party: Junior center Topé Obajolu leads the America East with 1.8 blocks per game this season. Obajolu set a school record with seven blocks against Coppin State on Nov. 16. She had five blocks in the first half alone. The previous mark of six was achieved three times, most recently by Amanda Robinson against Boston University on Feb. 4, 2007. Obajolu became the seventh player in school history to record 80 career blocks with three on Nov. 28 against Brown, and she currently ranks sxith with 89. She rejected 40 shots in 2009-10, tied for the fourth-highest single-season total in school history.

Slump buster: Senior forward Meghan Colabella averaged just 3.2 points per game in six December contests, but when January started, she broke out of her month-long slump with a season-high 15 points at Stony Brook on Jan. 3. She scored 13 points in the second half and came up especially clutch down the stretch, making five of six free throws in the final 1:15.

Lighting the Coles: Sophomore guard Kristin Coles has been on fire in her last three contests, making 14 of 20 field goal attempts, including all six at Navy on Dec. 21, when she tallied a career-high 13 points. She has also recorded 22 rebounds and eight steals in that span, including a huge offensive rebound off her own missed free throw with 2:21 to go at Navy and the Retrievers trailing by three, which set up the game-winning play.

Stolen Goods: UMBC recorded 14 steals on Dec. 18 at Virginia, the most in a game since also tallying 14 on Feb. 28, 2009, at Binghamton. Five different Retrievers had multiple steals, led by junior forward Erin Brown's career-high four takeaways. Sophomore guardKristin Coles matched her career best with three, while senior forward Meghan Colabellaalso recorded three, a season high. The Retrievers are averaging 8.1 steals per game this season, ranking fourth in the America East.

Rally Time: Trailing Bucknell by 11 points, 54-43, with 9:16 remaining in the game, UMBC went on a 20-3 run over the final 8:09 of play to defeat the Bision, 63-57, on Dec. 4. The final 3:15 was even more impressive, as the Retrievers outscored Bucknell, 16-2.

Thankful at Iona: The Retrievers turned a corner on their season at the Iona Thanksgiving Classic Nov. 27-28, scoring 70 points in both contests after averaging just 48.4 points per game through the first five games of the season. The 72 points scored against Toledo marked UMBC's first 70-point performance since scoring 74 at Loyola on Dec. 20, 2009, while the 75 points scored against Brown were the most since putting up 102 against UMES on Nov. 15, 2009. In addition, the weekend marked the first time the Retrievers have scored 70 points in back-to-back games since Jan. 21-28, 2009 in wins over America East rivals Albany and Binghamton. By averaging 73.5 points in the two games at Iona, UMBC raised its season scoring average by 7.2 points per game. In addition, after shooting a league-worst 30.7 percent from the floor through the first five games of the season, the Retrievers connected on 47.0 percent of their attempts on the weekend. Similarly, UMBC nearly doubled its season total of 3-pointers, draining 16 of 30 (53.3 percent) against Toledo and Brown after making 18 of 70 (25.7 percent) through the first five games.

Thankful at Iona, Part II: Just like UMBC as a team, junior guard Michelle Kurowski got untracked at the Iona Thanksgiving Classic Nov. 27-28. Kurowski, who was the Retrievers' top returning scorer from a year ago, averaged just 8.4 points per game while shooting 25.5 percent from the floor and making just three of 17 three-point attempts through the first five games of the season. But in two contests at Iona, Kurowski scored 24.5 ppg and shot 56.7 percent from the floor while draining seven of 11 attempts from beyond the arc. Kurowski and junior forward Erin Brown were both selected to the All-Tournament Team, as Brown averaged 14.0 ppg and 6.0 rpg on the weekend.

Double-Double Vision: Senior forward Meghan Colabella notched UMBC's first double-double of the season on Nov. 28 against Brown when she posted 10 points and a season-best 11 rebounds, and junior guard Michelle Kurowski made it two in a row with 25 points and 11 boards on Dec. 4 against Bucknell. Kurowski leads the Retrievers with seven career double-doubles, while Colabella has six and junior forward Erin Brown has five. In all, four Retrievers have combined for 20 career double-doubles.

Sparkplugs: Junior forward Erin Brown and freshman guard Raven Gerald provided a spark off the bench in the season opener at Delaware, combining to score 23 of UMBC's 44 points. Brown led the Retrievers with 12 points, while Gerald tallied 11 on three 3-pointers in her collegiate debut.

Helping Hand: Senior point guard Michele Brokans became the 10th player in school history to dish out 250 assists in her career in the season opener at Delaware, and she now has 288.

Three's Company: The Retrievers' 140-game streak with at least one 3-pointer, which dated to Feb. 5, 2005, was snapped on Dec. 22 at West Virginia, when they went 0-for-10 from long distance. However, they began a new streak in the next game against East Carolina, when they drained nine triples, and have now hit at least one in 34 straight games.

Against the America East: UMBC joined the America East in 2003-04, and the Retrievers are 39-78 in seven years of America East play. All-time, UMBC is 41-81 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.

Bragging Rights: UMBC took on six of the other eight Division I schools in the state of Maryland this season. The Retrievers hosted Coppin State (Nov. 16), Towson (Dec. 7) and Loyola (Dec. 29) and traveled to UMES (Nov. 14), Maryland (Dec. 10) and Navy (Dec. 21). UMBC posted a 4-2 record against its in-state opponents with losses at UMES and Maryland and victories over Coppin State, Towson and Navy. Last season, UMBC posted a 3-2 record against its in-state rivals, defeating UMES, Towson and Navy but falling to Coppin State and Loyola. The Retrievers are 76-124 all-time against the other eight Division I schools in Maryland.

Charity Case: For the second year in a row, junior guard Michelle Kurowski leads the America East in free throw percentage, and her .862 clip from the foul line ranks 39th in the NCAA. She made 22 consecutive free throws dating to Nov. 20 against St. Joseph's before missing her final attempt on Dec. 4 against Bucknell and finishing 11-for-12 in the game. The 11 free throws are the most by a Retriever in a single game since Carlee Cassidy drained 13 against Stony Brook on Feb. 21, 2009. Kurowski ranks second all-time at UMBC with a career .829 mark at the charity stripe, and her .822 clip in 2009-10 is the third-best single-season mark in school history. As a team, UMBC leads the America East with a .717 free throw percentage, as well. The Retrievers made 20 of 26 foul shots against Loyola on Dec. 29, making the most free throws as a team since March 13, 2009, against Binghamton in the America East quarterfinals.

Retrievers Picked Fifth: The Retrievers were picked to finish fifth in the America East preseason coaches' poll, equaling the program's highest billing since joining the America East in 2003. UMBC was also tabbed fifth in 2008-09. Boston University was the unanimous favorite to win the conference.

Head of the Class: UMBC was recognized on the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Academic Top 25 Team Honor Roll for posting the third-highest grade-point average in the nation among NCAA Division I squads during the 2009-10 academic year. The Retrievers' 3.578 mark ranked third among Division I schools to only Utah Valley (3.630) and South Dakota State (3.622) and was the 13th-highest GPA in the country among all divisions. The No. 3 ranking is the highest ever by an America East school. The previous high of No. 7 was achieved by Maine in the 1999-2000 academic year and matched by Binghamton in 2001-02. UMBC's 3.578 cumulative team GPA is also the highest by a conference school since the WBCA began recognizing the top 25 in 1998, bettering the Bearcats' 3.412 in 2001-02. Moreover, the America East Conference recognized all 11 women's basketball student-athletes on the league's winter/spring academic honor roll for earning a GPA of 3.0 or better during the spring semester, with seven team members garnering commissioner's honor roll status for a GPA of 3.5 or higher.

The Graduate: Senior forward Meghan Colabella earned her bachelor's degree in history last May, graduating Magna Cum Laude after just three years. She is competing as a graduate student during the 2010-11 campaign while completing her collegiate eligibility.

Cassidy Continues Career: Former UMBC standout Carlee Cassidy last week signed a professional contract with Forssan Alku Basketball Club in Finland. Forssan Alku is currently 7-7 on the season and in fifth place in D1, the top division in Finland. The season runs from October to March, and Cassidy's first game will be this Saturday, Jan. 8. A three-time America East All-Conference selection and two-time America East All-Academic honoree, Cassidy graduated last May after putting together one of the best four-year careers in UMBC women's basketball history in which she averaged 13.7 points per game. The 5-9 guard holds UMBC's career records for 3-pointers (248), 3-point attempts (769) and games played (119). In addition, she ranks among UMBC's all-time leaders in many other categories, with school Division I records for points (1,627), free throws (347) and field goals attempted (1,441).

Retrievers Ink Two: A pair of high school seniors recently signed National Letters of Intent to join the Retrievers in the fall of 2011. Lauren Chase, a 5-5 point guard from Bowie, Md., was rated as the No. 57 point guard in the nation by ESPN, and her high school, Riverdale Baptist, finished the 2009-10 season as the top-ranked team in the Washington, D.C., area by the Washington Post. Ashley Lambert is a versatile 5-11 player from Riverbend High School in Fredericksburg, Va., who is one of the top-ranked seniors in her region.

Follow the Retrievers: UMBC fans can now keep up with their favorite teams in a number of new ways, as UMBC Athletics is on social networking sites Facebook and Twitter. Fans can also follow head coach Phil Stern on Twitter at twitter.com/umbcwbb, as well as in his blog, PHILosophy, and the team can also be found on Facebook.

Retrievers All-Access: All of the Retrievers' home games will be video streamed through UMBC's multimedia website, www.UMBCRetrievers.tv. An All-Access Pass, available for $59.95, gives fans the opportunity to watch not only all the live coverage of various UMBC home athletic events, but also premium content not available to view without the All-Access Pass. The premium content includes any and all UMBC player and coaches interviews, highlights and an in-depth archive section of all video available on UMBCRetrievers.TV. Single-game subscriptions for all live events will be available throughout the season for $4.95.