BALTIMORE--Fresh off a thrilling come-from-behind win over New Hampshire on Monday, the UMBC women's basketball team (7-7, 1-0 AE) hits the road to take on America East rival Albany (7-7, 1-0 AE) Wednesday evening. Tipoff from SEFCU Arena is schedule for 7 p.m.
RETRIEVER UPDATE: UMBC is 7-7 on the season and 1-0 in America East play after Monday's 67-65 come-from-behind victory over New Hampshire in the conference opener. Senior forward Erin Brown scored 21 points, and junior guard Kristin Coles had a career-high 20; each player scored 15 points during the second-half comeback. Brown has eclipsed the 20-point plateau in each of the Retrievers' last four wins. Senior guard Michelle Kurowski ranks third all-time at UMBC with 1,426 career points, the most among active players in the America East, while Brown is 10th in school history with 1,134 and leads the league with 16.1 ppg on the season, as well as 2.9 three-pointers per game. They are two of just 12 Retrievers ever in the 1,000-point/500-rebound club. The Retrievers lead the America East with a .731 free throw percentage. UMBC is the preseason favorite to win the America East Conference after winning the 2011 regular-season title with a 13-3 record in league play. The Retrievers posted a 20-12 overall mark, matching the school record for victories in a season, and earned a berth in the WNIT after falling to Hartford in the conference semifinals.
GREAT DANE UPDATE: Albany is 7-7 on the season and 1-0 in America East play after a 40-37 win at defending league champion Hartford in Monday's conference opener, which snapped a three-game losing streak. Guard Adrienne Jones led the Great Danes with nine points, while forward Julie Forster grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds. Guard Ebone Henry, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, ranks third in the America East with 14.2 ppg, while Forster leads the league with 10.4 rpg. Albany was picked to finish fifth in the America East preseason poll, while Henry was tabbed to the preseason all-conference team.
WHO'S UP NEXT: The Retrievers visit America East rival Maine on Saturday. The Black Bears are 3-11 on the season and 0-1 in conference play. Maine was picked to finish ninth in the America East preseason poll. UMBC is 7-9 all-time against the Black Bears and has won six of the last seven meetings.
Inside the Series...
Wednesday's game marks the 17th all-time meeting between UMBC and Albany, and the Retrievers hold a 9-7 series lead. The ﬁrst meeting occurred on Feb. 4, 2004, a 75-58 victory for visiting Albany. The Great Danes took the ﬁrst three contests, including both games in 2004, but the teams split the season series in each of the next ﬁve years before the Retrievers swept Albany in 2010 and 2011. 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 3-5 all-time at SEFCU Arena. UMBC senior guard Michelle Kurowski is averaging a team-best 14.5 ppg and shooting 48.2 percent with 12 three-pointers in six career contests against the Great Danes.
In the last meeting between the two teams, Feb. 23, 2011, UMBC defeated Albany, 62-55, at the RAC to claim the America East regular-season title. Meghan Colabella led the Retrievers with 17 points, while Erin Brown posted a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Ebone Henry scored a game-high 21 points for the Great Danes.
News And Notes...
For Starters: At 7-7, UMBC opens the season with at least seven wins in its first 14 games for the second year in a row and the fifth time in the last seven seasons.
For Starters, Part II: The Retrievers' 67-65 win over New Hampshire on Monday was their third in an America East opener in nine seasons in the conference. The previous two wins occurred in 2007 - the year they won the conference title - and 2011 - the year they won the league's regular-season crown.
Brown Out: After ranking fourth in the league in scoring with 14.3 ppg a year ago, senior forward Erin Brown leads the America East with 16.1 ppg this season, nearly two points ahead of the next closest scorer, Vermont's Lauren Buschmann (14.4 ppg). Brown has eclipsed the 20-point plateau in UMBC's last four wins (UMES, 24; George Mason, 21; Navy, 20; New Hampshire, 21), and she has scored in double figures in 13 of 14 games this season, leading the Retrievers in scoring 10 times. In addition, she has drained a career-high six 3-pointers in two of her last four games (Navy, 12/22; Virginia Tech, 12/29) and also leads the America East with 2.9 treys per game this season.
Home Sweet Home: UMBC saw its school-record 12-game home-court winning streak snapped on Nov. 19 by No. 9 Maryland. The streak had dated to Dec. 4, 2010. However, the Retrievers have won 19 of their last 22 home games since Feb. 7, 2010, and they went 12-1 at the RAC last season, a new school Division I record for home wins.
Join the Club: Senior forward Erin Brown scored her 1,000th career point on Dec. 3 against Princeton, the 18th Retriever ever to reach the milestone. She joins classmate Michelle Kurowski in the 1,000-point/500-rebound club, just the second set of teammates in UMBC's Division I era to achieve both marks, joining Angel Webb and Anne Wellington (1992), and they are two of just 12 Retrievers ever. Kurowski ranks third all-time at UMBC with 1,426 career points, while Brown is 10th with 1,134, and they are tied for 14th with 561 rebounds.
Special K: Senior guard Michelle Kurowski is the America East's active career scoring leader with 1,426 points, which ranks 37th all-time in conference history, and she is ninth in the league in scoring this season with 11.9 ppg after ranking second with 14.6 ppg last season. Kurowski 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 from 2006-09.
Block Party: Senior center Topé Obajolu is just three blocks shy of tying Angel Webb's UMBC record for career rejections, as she is currently second with 129. Obajolu set a school record for blocks in a season with 56 in 2010-11; Monica Logan's previous mark of 47 had stood since 1996-97. She led the America East with 1.8 blocks per game last season. Obajolu set a school record with seven blocks against Coppin State on Nov. 16, 2010. The previous mark of six was achieved three times.
Raining Three's: Senior forward Erin Brown ranks third all-time at UMBC with 155 career 3-pointers, while senior guard Michelle Kurowski is tied for fifth with 133. They are the eighth and ninth Retrievers ever to sink 100 career 3-pointers, and they are just the second-ever set of Retriever teammates with 100 three-pointers apiece and the first since Johnson and Jessie Brown in 2002-03.
Lights, Camera, action: Two UMBC women's basketball games will be nationally broadcast as part of the America East Conference's new TV packages with ESPN and CBS Sports Network. UMBC's Jan. 25 Midday Madness game against Boston University will air on ESPN3 in a mathcup of the league's top two preseason favorites. In addition, the Retrievers will square off against defending league champion Hartford on Feb. 19 on CBS Sports, the first-ever nationally televised women's game in America East history.
Against the Best: UMBC's non-conference schedule featured games against seven teams that advanced to the 2011 postseason. Of the seven, Maryland, Princeton, Hampton and Navy earned berths in the NCAA Tournament, while Morgan State, Monmouth and Loyola played in the WNIT. UMBC went 4-3 against those teams with victories over Morgan State, Monmouth, Loyola and Navy.
Against the America East: UMBC has won seven straight America East Conference games since Feb. 5, 2010, and 14 of 17 since the start of last season. UMBC joined the America East in 2003-04, and the Retrievers are 52-81 in eight years of America East play. All-time, UMBC is 55-85 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.
20/20: Senior forward Erin Brown scored 21 points and junior guard Kristin Coles tallied a career-high 20 on Monday against New Hampshire. They are the first set of Retriever teammates to eclipse the 20-point plateau in the same game since Brown and classmateMichelle Kurowski against Vermont on Jan. 15, 2011. Brown has scored at least 20 points eight times in her career and four times this season - all UMBC wins.
Comeback Kids: The Retrievers trailed by 11 points, 58-47, with 7:40 remaining against New Hampshire on Monday, but they outscored the Wildcats, 20-7, the rest of the way to pull out the 67-65 win. Senior forward Erin Brown scored 13 of UMBC's final 20 points of the game.
Stealing a Win: UMBC recorded 12 steals against New Hampshire on Monday, one shy of its season high. The Retrievers came up with five steals in six Wildcat possessions in a two-minute stretch during their decisive 20-7 run a the end of the game, and senior forward Erin Brown and freshman guard Lauren Chase each had two in that span, and Chase finished with a game- and career-high four.
Making it Rain: Senior forward Erin Brown and junior guard Brittany Crowell combined for 10 three-pointers against Virginia Tech on Thursday, as Brown matched her career high with six and Crowell set a new career best with four. The duo had eight in the first half alone, as the Retrievers' final eight field goals of the period all came from long distance.
SeeSaw: UMBC's game against George Mason on Dec. 8 saw eight ties and 22 lead changes before the Retrievers pulled away with a 17-4 run over the final 4:51 of action.
Bouncing Back: After struggling from the floor in the previous three games, shooting 28.3 percent with six combined 3-pointers, the Retrievers made 24 of 48 field goal attempts (50 percent) against UMES on Dec. 6, including 14 of 23 (60.9 percent) in the second half, and drained a season-high 10 of 23 (43.5 percent) attempts from long distance.
Charity Case: UMBC leads the America East and ranks 42nd in the nation with a .731 free throw percentage, led by senior guard Michelle Kurowski's league-best .909 mark (40-for-44), which ranks 10th in the NCAA. Kurowski has led the America East in free throw percentage in each of the last two seasons, and her .894 clip in 2010-11 was a UMBC record and ranked sixth in the NCAA. She ranks second all-time at UMBC to current assistant coach Kristin Drabyn with a career .855 mark at the charity stripe.
So Close You could Taste It: UMBC gave No. 9 Maryland all it could handle in a 70-59 loss on Nov. 19. Each time the Terps appeared to pull away, the Retrievers made a run to get right back in the game and trailed by just four midway through the second half.
HONOR ROLL: Freshman point guard Lauren Chase earned the season's first America East Rookie of the Week Award on Nov. 14 after averaging 11.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and a league-best 7.0 assists while shooting 50 percent from the floor in the first two games of the season. She is the first Retriever to earn America East Rookie of the Week honors sinceMichelle Kurowski on March 2, 2009.
DOUBLE-DOUBLE VISION: Three Retrievers recorded double-doubles at Monmouth on Nov. 13, led by senior center Topé Obajolu (20 points, 10 rebounds) and senior forward Erin Brown (18 points, 11 rebounds), while freshman point guard Lauren Chase finished one rebound shy of a triple-double with 10 points, 11 assists and nine boards. The last time even two Retrievers tallied double-doubles in the same game was Nov. 15, 2009, against UMES, when Michelle Kurowski and Meghan Colabella each accomplished the feat.
HELPING HAND: Freshman point guard Lauren Chase set a Retriever rookie record with 11 assists at Monmouth on Nov. 13, tied for the fifth-most ever by a Retriever in a single game and the most since Brittnie Hughes had 12 on Dec. 29, 2006. In addition, it was the first time a UMBC player recorded double digits in assists since Michele Brokans had 10 on Jan. 24, 2009.
Balanced Attack: Four Retrievers scored in double figures in the season opener agaisnt Morgan State on Nov. 11. In her UMBC debut, junior guard Brittany Crowell scored a game-high 15 points off the bench, while senior forward Erin Brown notched a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Senior guard Michelle Kurowski added 13 points, while freshman point guard Lauren Chase chipped in 12 points in her collegiate debut.
Double Your Pleasure: Eight Retrievers have scored in double figures at least once in their careers, led by senior guard Michelle Kurowski, who has reached double digits in 69 of her 106 career games, including a career-best eight straight from Dec. 21, 2010-Jan. 20, 2011. In addition, senior forward Erin Brown's career-high 20-game double-figure streak, which dated to Feb. 5 against Maine, was snapped by High Point last Wednesday, but she has scored at least 10 points in 13 of 14 games this season and 61 times in her career.
Head of the Class: Senior guard Michelle Kurowski was recently named one of 30 candidates nationwhide for the prestigious Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, which recognizes senior student-athletes who exemplify excellence in the four C's of community, classroom, character and competition. The award is just another in Kurowski's long list of accolades, which include America East Women's Basketball Scholar-Athlete, Capital One Academic All-District First Team and Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association Scholar-Athlete Team. Kurowski graduated Magna Cum Laude from UMBC in May, maintaining a 3.82 GPA as a psychology major, and is currently competing as a graduate student while pursuing a teaching certificate and a master's degree in early childhood education.
Making the Grade: UMBC was recognized on the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Academic Top 25 for the second year in a row, ranking 20th among NCAA Division I programs during the 2010-11 academic year with a 3.374 team grade-point average. In addition, the America East recognized 10 of UMBC's 13 women's basketball student-athletes on the league's academic honor roll for earning a GPA of 3.0 or better during the spring semester, with eight team members garnering commissioner's honor roll status for a GPA of 3.5 or higher. In 2009-10, the Retrievers' 3.578 team GPA was the third-best in the nation.
Bragging Rights: UMBC took on seven of the other eight Division I schools in the state of Maryland in 2010-11. The Retrievers hosted Morgan State (Nov. 11), Maryland (Nov. 19) and UMES (Dec. 6) and traveled to Coppin State (Nov. 16), Loyola (Nov. 22), Towson (Nov. 27) and Navy (Dec. 20). After going 4-2 against its in-state rivals last season, UMBC was 4-3 this season, defeating Morgan State, Loyola, UMES and Navy and falling to Coppin State, Maryland and Towson. The Retrievers are 80-127 all-time against the other eight Division I schools in the state.
In the Polls: The Retrievers are receiving votes in the most recent CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25. Four of UMBC's opponents - Princeton (No. 7), Hampton (No. 8), Hartford (No. 15) and Towson (No. 24) - are ranked in the poll.
Welcome Home: Former Retriever standout Kristin Drabyn returned to her alma mater as an assistant coach this offseason. Drabyn was a four-year letterwinner from 2004-08, helping to lead the Retrievers to the 2007 America East title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. She is UMBC's career record-holder in free throw percentage (.887) and currently ranks second all-time in 3-pointers made (168) and third in 3-point percentage (.348). Drabyn was named to the America East All-Conference Third Team as a senior in 2008.
Three's Company: UMBC has made at least one 3-pointer in 66 straight games dating to Dec. 28, 2009, against East Carolina. The Retrievers' 140-game streak, which had dated to Feb. 5, 2005, was snapped the previous game, Dec. 22, at West Virginia, when they went 0-for-10 from long distance.
PLAYING FAVORITES: The Retrievers were chosen as the 2011-12 America East preseason favorites by the league's head coaches. The Retrievers received five first-place votes and 60 total points to edge Boston University. Prior to this season, UMBC had never been picked higher than fifth (2008-09, 10-11).
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: UMBC claimed its first-ever America East regular-season title on Feb. 23 when it defeated Albany, 62-55. The Retrievers took the league by surprise, posting a 13-3 record with 10 wins in their last 11 regular-season games after being picked to finish fifth in the preseason poll. As the top seed in the America East Championship, the Retrievers automatically qualified for a berth in the WNIT when they dropped a 66-48 decision in the conference semifinals to fourth-seeded and host Hartford, the eventual conference champion.Setting the Mark: UMBC's 20 wins in 2010-11 matched the school record, which was set by the 1985-86 squad, and were the most in the program's 25-year Division I history. The Retrievers were hot over the last three months of the season with 19 wins in their last 26 contests after starting the year 1-5. Prior to last season, UMBC had not finished above .500 since 2005-06, when it went 15-13. In addition, the Retrievers' 13 America East victories were their most ever in their eight seasons in the league; prior to last season, UMBC had not won more than seven America East contests (7-9 in 2006 and 2010) or finished higher than tied for fourth (2010).
All-Conference Trio: UMBC guards Michelle Kurowski and Erin Brown were both selected to the America East All-Conference First Team last season, while center Topé Obajolu was tabbed to the Third Team. Carlee Cassidy in 2008 is the only other Retriever ever to earn first-team honors in the America East. In addition, UMBC placed three players on all-conference squads for the first time in its eight seasons in the America East. Obajolu was also voted to the All-Defensive team, the first Retriever to earn that honor since Sharri Rohde in 2007 and just the second UMBC player ever.
Coach of the Year: UMBC head coach Phil Stern was named America East Coach of the Year in a vote of the league's nine head coaches. Stern guided the Retrievers, who were picked to finish fifth in the America East preseason poll, to their first-ever America East regular-season title. Stern oversaw a +6 turnaround from 2009-10, when the Retrievers posted a 13-17 overall record and 7-9 league mark. Stern is the first UMBC women's basketball coach to be named Coach of the Year since Kathy Solano in 1994 in the Big South. In addition, while it was his first Coach of the Year honor at the Division I level, Stern garnered the accolade twice in the Division II Peach Belt Conference while at USC Aiken (2000, 2002).
Follow the Retrievers: UMBC fans can now keep up with their favorite teams in a number of ways, as UMBC Athletics is on social media sites Twitter (@UMBCAthletics), Facebook andYouTube. Fans can also follow head coach Phil Stern on Twitter (@UMBCwbb), and the team can also be found on Facebook.
Retrievers All-Access: All of the Retrievers' home games will be video streamed live through UMBC's multimedia website, UMBCRetrievers.tv. An All-Access pass, available for $59.95, gives fans the opportunity to watch all the live coverage of various UMBC home athletic events. Single-game subscriptions for all live events will also be available throughout the season for $5.95.