Midday Madness Invades the RAC Thursday Afternoon as Women's Basketball Hosts Hartford

Junior center Tope Obajolu
Junior center Tope Obajolu

Jan. 20, 2011: UMBC vs. Hartford Gamenotes

BALTIMORE--The Retrievers will welcome more than 1,600 local elementary and middle school students to the RAC Arena Thursday afternoon when they host UMBC's sixth annual Midday Madness. The women's basketball team (9-9, 3-2 AE) will take on America East powerhouse Hartford (6-12, 3-2 AE) at 12 p.m., and the game will be streamed live at UMBCRetrievers.tv. Admission is free for all fans.

RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC is 9-9 on the season and 3-2 in America East play following Monday's 65-39 loss at preseason favorite Boston University. Junior guard Michelle Kurowski, who was named America East Player of the Week earlier in the day, was the only Retriever in double figures with 15 points. UMBC's three juniors - Kurowski, forward Erin Brown and center Topé Obajolu - have accounted for 68.3 percent of the Retrievers' offense this season, led by Kurowski's league-best 16.2 ppg. She also leads the America Esat with an .878 free throw percentage, while Obajolu is tops in the conference with 1.8 blocks per game. Kurowski ranks 10th all-time at UMBC with 1,087 career points; she is averaging 21.2 ppg in five league contests. UMBC ranks among the America East's defensive leaders, hoding opponents to a .368 shooting percentage, which ranks second, while allowing just 57.9 points per game, which ranks third.

HAWK UPDATE: Hartford is 6-12 on the season and 3-2 in conference play after falling to Binghamton, 69-57, on Monday. Guard Alex Hall led all scorers with 21 points in the game. Guard Mary Silvia is averaging a team-best 9.6 ppg this season, while forward Nikkia Smithis tops with 5.3 rpg. Guard Jackie Smith, a preseason all-conference selection, ranks fifth in the league with 3.3 apg. Hartford, the defending America East regular-season champion, was picked to finish second in the preseason poll despite losing America East Player of the Year Diana Delva and Defensive Player of the Year Erica Beverly to graduation.

Who's Up Next: The Retrievers host America East rival New Hampshire on Sunday, Jan. 23. The Wildcats are 5-13 overall and 2-4 in league play. The all-time series between the Retrievers and Wildcats is tied, 7-7, and the teams have split the regular-season series in each of the last three years.

Inside the Series...

Thursday's game marks the 17th all-time meeting between UMBC and Hartford, and the Hawks hold a 14-2 series advantage. The first meeting occurred on Dec. 29, 2002, a 60-47 victory for Hartford at the Saint Joseph's Hawk Classic. The Hawks won the first contest as America East rivals in 2004, but the Retrievers won at home that season, 48-46. Hartford then won six straight, but UMBC got its revenge in the 2007 America East Tournament, stunning the top-seeded and two-time defending champion Hawks, 48-46, in the title game. Hartford has since swept the season series each of the last three years. As America East rivals, the teams have met twice a year since the Retrievers joined the conference in 2003-04. Hartford is 6-1 all-time at RAC Arena.

In the last meeting between the two teams, Feb. 2, 2010, Hartford defeated UMBC, 85-45, at Chase Arena. UMBC guard Carlee Cassidy led the Retrievers with 13 points, while Hartford center Diana Delva led four Hawks in double figures with 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting and guard Daphne Elliott tallied 15 points on five 3-pointers. Hartford shot 53.2 percent in the game while holding UMBC to 35.4 percent from the floor.

News And Notes...

For Starters: At 9-9, UMBC opens the season with at least nine wins in its first 18 games for the fourth time in the last six seasons. The Retrievers have been hot over the last two months with eight wins in their last 12 contests.

For Starters, Part II: UMBC's 65-52 win over Stony Brook last 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. UMBC starts league play 3-2 for just the second time in its eight seasons in the America East; the 2008-09 squad also won three of its first five league games.

Silver Anniversary: UMBC is celebrating its 25th season at the Division I level. Since 1986-97, the Retrievers have posted a 277-417 record.

Let the Madness Begin: Thursday's game is UMBC's sixth annual Midday Madness, an event that has averaged 1,398 fans since its inception in 2006, when the RAC saw its biggest crowd ever for a women's basketball game (1,312) at the time. Last season, the crowd again set a RAC women's basketball record, as 2,023 fans attended the game. Each year the Retrievers welcome more than 800 local elementary and middle school students; this year more than 1,600 students are expected. Admission to the game is free to all fans. UMBC is 2-3 on Midday Madness, with wins over Albany in 2006 and 2009 and losses to Maine in 2007, Binghamton in 2008 and Vermont in 2010.

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 Jan. 3. 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. Kurowski now ranks 10th all-time with 1,087 career points.

Junior Circuit: UMBC's three juniors have accounted for 68.3 percent of the team's scoring this season (689 of 1,009 points). Guard Michelle Kurowski leads the Retrievers with 16.2 points per game, followed by forward Erin Brown (12.8 ppg) and center Topé Obajolu (9.3 ppg). All three rank among the top 25 scorers in the America East, as Kurowski leads the leauge, while Brown ranks seventh and Obajolu is 21st. 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 became the 14th Retriever ever to record 500 career rebounds on Jan. 12 against Binghamton, and she is the first Retriever to join the club since Sharri Rohde in 2006.

Helping Hand: Senior point guard Michele Brokans became the ninth player in school history to dish out 300 assists on Jan. 12 against Binghamton, and she is the first Retriever to join the club since Sharri Rohde in 2007.

Special K: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski was named America East and ECAC Player of the Week this week after averaging 29.0 ppg and shooting 67.6 percent (23-for-34) in wins over Binghamton and Vermont. It was her second America East award of the season, as she also earned it on Nov. 29 after averaging 19.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game in three contests, and it was the fourth award of her career after winning it twice last season. Her four America East Player of the Week awards match former teammateCarlee Cassidy for the most ever by a Retriever in UMBC's eight seasons in the conference.

Special K, Part II: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski leads the America East with 16.2 points per game on the season, and she is averaging a conference-best 21.2 ppg in five league contests. She has averaged 13.9 points per game in her career, the third-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 has scored 20 or more points six times this season, including three straight from Nov. 27-Dec. 4.

Raining Three's: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski became the eighth player in school history to sink 100 three-pointers in her career on Jan. 12 against Binghamton.

Tenacious D: UMBC ranks second in the America East in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to a .368 clip, and ranks third in scoring defense, allowing just 57.9 points per game. Opponents have shot less than 40 percent against UMBC in 14 of 18 contests this season, including less than 30 percent three times, and they have scored less than 60 points in all nine of the Retrievers' wins, including a season-low 38 points by Binghamton on Jan. 12. It was the first time UMBC has allowed less than 40 points in a game since defeating the same Bearcats, 63-37, on Feb. 1, 2006.

Double Your Pleasure: So far this season, seven Retrievers have combined for 42 double-digit efforts, led by junior forward Erin Brown, who has scored at least 10 points in 14 of 18 games to start the year, though her career-high six-game streak was snapped on Dec. 21 at Navy. Junior guard Michelle Kurowski has scored in double figures in 52 of her 78 career games, including the last seven, a career best. Four Retrievers reached double figures in the same game on Dec. 29 against Loyola for the first time since Jan. 18, 2010, against Binghamton.

Home Sweet Home: UMBC is 6-1 at the RAC Arena this season with five straight home wins. UMBC's only home loss this season occurred on Nov. 20 to Saint Joseph's. Dating to Feb. 7, 2010, the Retrievers have won nine of their last 10 home games. UMBC won a school Division I-record 11 games at home in 1990-91.

20/20: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski scored 28 points and junior forward Erin Browntallied 21 on Saturday against Vermont, giving the Retrievers two players with 20 points in the same game for the first time since March 4, 2009, against Boston University, when Katie Brooks (28) and Carlee Cassidy (24) each reached the 20-point plateau. Kurowski and Brown accounted for 71 percent of UMBC's 69 points against the Catamounts. It was the 19th 20-point performance of Kurowski's career and the second for Brown.

30 Rock: Junior guard Michelle Kurowski posted the 20th 30-point performance in UMBC history when she scored 30 against Binghamton on Wednesday. She scored nearly as many points as the entire Bearcat team (38) and she had more points than the rest of her teammates combined (25). She is the fourth player in school history to score 30 points more than once in her career, as she also netted 30 against Navy on Dec. 5, 2008. In addition, it was the first 30-point effort by a Retriever since Carlee Cassidy tallied 33 against Boston University on Jan. 28, 2009.

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 then posted her second double-double of the season on Jan. 9 at Maine with 14 points and a season-high 12 caroms. Kurowski leads the Retrievers with eight career double-doubles, while Colabella has six and junior forwardErin Brown has five. In all, four Retrievers have combined for 20 career double-doubles.

Block Party: Junior center Topé Obajolu leads the America East with 1.7 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 currently ranks sxith all-time at UMBC with 95. She rejected 40 shots in 2009-10, tied for the fourth-highest single-season total in school history.

Ol' Reliable: Junior forward Erin Brown has been the Retrievers' most consistent player this season. She has scored in double figures in 14 of the first 18 games, though her career-high six-game double-figure streak was snapped on Dec. 21 at Navy. Brown ranks sixth in the America East with 12.8 ppg.

Century Mark: UMBC's 65-52 victory over Stony Brook on Jan. 3 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 101-153 in nine seasons since the 2002-03 campaign. He is now four wins shy of 200 for his career (196-225).

Charity Case: For the second year in a row, junior guard Michelle Kurowski leads the America East in free throw percentage, and her .878 clip from the foul line ranks 29th 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 .834 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 .727 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.

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. She then posted her second consecutive double-digit scoring effort with 10 points at Maine on Jan. 9.

Lighting the Coles: Sophomore guard Kristin Coles made 11 of 12 field goal attempts in two games Dec. 18-21, including all six at Navy, when she tallied a career-high 13 points. She also recorded 13 rebounds and five 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 7.9 steals per game this season, ranking fifth in the America East.

Streaking: UMBC won three straight games from Dec. 21-Jan. 3, the Retrievers' second three-game winning streak this season, as they also won three in arow from Nov. 28-Dec. 7. Prior to this season, the Retrievers' last three-game winning streak was Nov. 24-Dec. 2, 2009.

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 to defeat the Bision, 63-57, on Dec. 4. The last 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 while draining seven of 11 attempts from beyond the arc. Kurowski and junior forwardErin Brown were both selected to the All-Tournament Team, as Brown averaged 14.0 ppg and 6.0 rpg on the weekend.

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 38 straight games.

Against the America East: UMBC joined the America East in 2003-04, and the Retrievers are 41-80 in seven-plus years of America East play. All-time, UMBC is 43-83 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.

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.