BALTIMORE, Md. - The UMBC women's basketball team travels to Connecticut for the second time in three weeks, this time to play in the America East Championship. The No. 5-seeded Retrievers take on the No.-4 New Hampshire Wildcats in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament on Friday at the Chase Family Arena on the campus of the University of Hsrtford. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. or 30 minutes after the conclusion of the game between No. 1-seed Boston U. and No. 8-seed Maine.
The Retrievers and Wildcats split the two regular season matchups with each squad winning on their home court. UMBC struck first with a 67-65 win at the RAC on Jan. 2. UNH then even the series, winning, 75-68, at Lundholm Gymnasium in Durham, N.C.
RETRIEVER UPDATE: A year after winning its first-ever America East regular-season title with a 13-3 record in conferenceplay, UMBC finished the 2011-12 regular season in fifth with a 9-7 conference record. The Retrievers are 15-14 overall and won four of their final six game to conlcude the regular season. UMBC swept the season series from three league opponents - Vermont, Maine and StonyBrook - and split with Hartford, New Hampshire and Binghamton, defeating all three at home and falling on theroad. UMBC was swept by the top two teams in the conference, Boston U. and Albany. The Retrievers are coming off of a 72-60 win over Vermont on Saturday. Playing in her final game at the RAC Arena, senior Michelle Kurowski scored a game-high 21 points against the Catamounts. Fellow seniors Erin Brown and Topé Obajolu combined for 20 points in the regular season finale for UMBC. Junior Kristin Coles picked up a double-double against the Catamounts, her second straight and team-leading fifth of the season, scoring 19 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.
Freshman Lauren Chase, the America East Rookie of the Year, was also in double figures with 11 points. UMBC's three juniors - Brown, Kurowski and Obajolu - have accounted for 59.2 percent of the Retrievers' offense this season.
Brown and Kurowski each rank in the top-10 in the America East in scoring for the second straight year. Brown, who was named to the America East All-Conference First Team, places second (14.4 ppg), while Kurowski, who garnered Second Team honors, ranks fifth (13.2 ppg). In addition, both were named to the conference All-Academic team.
Chase, who was the only unanimous selection for the All-Rookie Team, led the league in assists, averaging 4.6 assists per game. Coles has recorded back-to-back double-doubles against Boston U. and Vermont heading into the tournament. The junior leads UMBC with five this season.
WILDCAT UPDATE: Fourth-seeded New Hampshire (16-12, 9-7) Binghamton, 59-52, in overtime in both team's regular season finale. The Wildcats have now won three in a row and four of their last five games. Forward Denise Beliveau, an all-conference first-team selection, posted her tenth double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while forward Morgan Frame and guard Abigail Larosa were also in double figures, scoring 15 points and 12 points, respectively.Frame leads New Hampshire with 16.0 ppg, while Beliveau (13.9 ppg) and Kelsey Hogan (10.0) also average double digit points. Beliveau is tops on the team and third in the America East with 8.6 rpg while also placing third in free throw percentage (.853) and ranks ninth in the conference with a .408 field goal percentage.
The Wildcats also boast three of the top eight 3-point shooters in the America East, led by Hogan, who connects at 42.4 percent clip from long distance. New Hampshire is the free throw shooting team in the league, making 70.9 percent of its shots from the charity stripe, and also ranks first in 3-point percentage, recording a 32.6 shooting percentage from beyond the arc. The Wildcats were picked to finish sixth in the America East preseason poll.
WHO'S UP NEXT: A win would put the Retrievers in the semifinal round on Sunday at the Chase Family Arena. UMBC would face the winner of the semifinal contest between No. 1 Boston University and the winner of the play-in game between No. 8 Maine and No. 9 Stony Brook.