Women's Basketball Heads to New York This Weekend for Iona Thanksgiving Classic

Senior forward Meghan Colabella
Senior forward Meghan Colabella

Nov. 27-28, 2010: Iona Thanksgiving Classic Notes

BALTIMORE--The UMBC women's basketball team (1-4) travels to New York this weekend for the Iona Thanksgiving Classic. The Retrievers will take on Toledo on Saturday and Brown on Sunday. Both games will tip at 1 p.m.

RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC is coming off a 54-38 loss at George Mason Tuesday evening. Junior center Topé Obajoluwas the only Retriever in double figures, scoring 11 points, while junior forward Erin Brown netted nine points on three 3-pointers, all within a three-minute span. Despite shooting a league-worst 30.7 percent from the floor on the season, UMBC ranks among the America East's leaders in defense, holding opponents to a .348 field goal percentage and 58.4 points per game, the second- and third-best marks, respectively.

ROCKET UPDATE: Toledo is 1-3 on the season following a 58-50 loss at Cleveland State on Tuesday. Guard Naama Shafir and forward Melissa Goodall are each averaging a team-best 15.3 points per game, while Goodall also leads the Rockets in rebounding with 6.5 boards per contest. Toledo was picked to win the Mid-American Conference's West Division in the preseason poll, while Shafir was selected to the Preseason All-MAC West Division squad. The Rockets won the MAC West last season, advanced to the conference tournament finals and earned a berth in the 2010 WNIT.

BEAR UPDATE: Brown is 2-2 on the season following a 57-49 win over Bryant on Tuesday. Guard Hannah Passafuime leads the Bears with 12.3 points per game, while guard Sheila Dixon is tops on the team with 6.5 rebounds per contest. Brown was picked to finish sixth in the Ivy League preseason poll.

Who's Up Next: The Retrievers return home to host Bucknell on Saturday, Dec. 4. Bucknell is 1-3 on the season and plays two more games before travelling to Baltimore next weekend. UMBC is 2-4 all-time against the Bison following last season's 68-63 victory in Lewisburg, Pa.

Inside the Series...

Saturday's game marks the first-ever meeting between UMBC and Toledo. Sunday's game is the second all-time meeting between UMBC and Brown, but the teams have not met since 1991, a 67-64 victory for the Retrievers.

News And Notes...

Block Party: Junior center Topé Obajolu set a school record with seven blocks against Coppin State on Nov. 16. She had five blocks in the first half, and her record-breaking rejection occurred with 1:07 remaining in the game. The previous mark of six was achieved three times, most recently by Amanda Robinson against Boston University on Feb. 4, 2007. Obajolu now has 76 blocks in her career, moving her into seventh place all-time at UMBC. She ranks second in the America East with 2.2 per game so far this season after posting 40 in 2009-10, tied for the fourth-highest single-season total in school history.

Honor Roll: Junior center Topé Obajolu was named to the America East Honor Roll on Monday for setting UMBC's single-game record with seven blocks in the win over Coppin State. She finished the week with 12.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game in two contests.

Junior Circuit: UMBC's three leading scorers so far this season are the team's three juniors. Forward Erin Brown leads the Retrievers with 11.2 points per game, followed by center Topé Obajolu with 10.8 ppg and guard Michelle Kurowski with 8.4 ppg. Brown has led UMBC in scoring in three of the first five games this season, with double-digit efforts in four contests.

Tenacious D: UMBC ranks second in the America East in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to a .348 clip, and third in scoring defense, allowing just 58.4 points per game.

Special K: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski has averaged 12.9 points per game in her career, the sixth-best career scoring average in school history. She has ranked in the top 10 in the America East in scoring each of her first two seasons, the first player to do so as a freshman and sophomore since Vermont's Courtnay Pilypaitis in 2006-07 and 2007-08.

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.

Against the MAC: UMBC is 2-4 all-time against current Mid-American Conference opponents, with its two wins coming in 2008 against Northern Illinois and Western Michigan. Otherwise, the Retrievers have only faced Bowling Green (0-1), Buffalo (0-2) and Eastern Michigan (0-1), and had not played any MAC.

Against the Ivy League: UMBC is 5-5 all-time against Ivy League opponents, but has not faced any of them since 2003, when they lost to Penn.

Bragging Rights: UMBC will take on six of the other eight Division I schools in the state of Maryland this season. The Retrievers will host Coppin State (Nov. 16), Towson (Dec. 7) and Loyola (Dec. 29) and will travel to UMES (Nov. 14), Maryland (Dec. 10) and Navy (Dec. 21) and are 1-1 so far following a loss at UMES and a victory over Coppin State. 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 73-122 all-time against the other eight Division I schools in Maryland.

Charity Case: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski led the America East with an .822 free throw percentage (83-for-101) last season, the third-best single-season mark in school history. She ranks second all-time at UMBC with a career .823 mark at the charity stripe.

Three For All: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski ranks eighth all-time at UMBC with 80 career 3-pointers.

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 258.

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 41 of her 64 career games. So far this season, five Retrievers have combined for 10 double-digit efforts, led by junior forward Erin Brown, who has scored at least 10 points in four of five games to start the year.

Atop the America East: Entering the week, three Retrievers ranked among the top 10 active scorers in the America East, including junior guard Michelle Kurowski, who is second with 830 career points. In addition, senior forward Meghan Colabella ranks ninth (512) and junior forward Erin Brown is 10th (497). Moreover, Colabella ranks second among the conference's active rebounders with 442, while Kurowski is fifth (333), and senior point guard Michele Brokans ranks third among the league's active assist leaders with 255.

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.

Double-Double Vision: Four Retrievers have combined for 18 career double-doubles, including junior guard Michelle Kurowski, who posted a team-best five last season and also leads the squad with six in her career. Forwards Meghan Colabella and Erin Brown also have five apiece.

Wrap Up: UMBC's seven league victories in 2010 matched its highest total in seven years in the America East, which was set in 2005-06. In addition, prior to last season, the Retrievers had never finished higher than fifth in the America East before finishing in a tie for fourth place in 2010.

Road Warriors: UMBC won seven road games last season, its most since winning a school Division I-record eight games on the road in 1998-99.

Cardiac Kids: Nine of UMBC's 13 wins last season were by single-digit margins, including five by five points or less.

Thanks for the Memories: Guard Carlee Cassidy graduated last May after putting together one of the best four-year careers in UMBC women's basketball history. Cassidy 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). Cassidy led the America East in scoring in back-to-back seasons as a sophomore and junior and was a three-time all-conference selection.

Second Helpings: UMBC trailed at halftime in seven of its 13 victories last season, including by 13 points at Fordham on Dec. 29 and by 19 against Boston U. on Feb. 24. The Retrievers averaged 32.6 points in the second half compared to 26.0 in the first half and outscored their opponents 15 times in the second stanza.

Tip-Top Topé: Last season, center Topé Obajolu broke out when America East play began Jan. 6. In 16 league games, Obajolu averaged 9.8 ppg and shot a team-best 47.3 percent from the floor, ranking sixth in the America East. She also led the league with 2.0 blocks per game. In 13 non-conference games, she scored 67 points (5.2 ppg), but she more than doubled that total in 16 league contests with 157 points.

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 25 straight games.

Do You Believe in Miracles: The Retrievers pulled off the fourth-largest comeback in NCAA Division I history and the second-largest in regulation on Feb. 24 against Boston University. UMBC trailed by 19 at halftime, 35-16, and fell behind by 23 points early in the second half. But the Retrievers used a 19-0 run early in the second half and a 17-3 spurt midway through to take a 52-51 advantage with 5:59 to go, and the Retrievers went on top for good on a layup by Carlee Cassidy with 1:45 on the clock. It was truly a tale of two halves for the Retrievers, who shot 55.6 percent in the second stanza, including 50 percent from long distance with seven 3's, and committed just three turnovers after making just five of 23 field goals (21.7 percent) and two of 11 from behind the arc in the first period with 12 miscues. UMBC outscored BU, 42-22, in the second half. The Terriers' downfall was just as drastic, as they shot 48.3 percent in the first half, including 54.5 percent (6-for-11) from 3-point range, but just 24.1 percent (7-for-29) in the second period.

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, while the Retrievers also have the UMBC Dawg Blog.

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.