CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Boston University senior Jesyka Burks-Wiley (Kansas City, Mo./Lincoln College Prep) is the recipient of the America East Women’s Basketball Player of the Week for the period ending February 15. Burks-Wiley, receiving the award for the fifth time this season, and the Terriers are winners of 12 straight games and are 11-0 in league play. First-time winner Viive Rebane (Talinn, Estonia/Audentes School), freshman forward from Binghamton University, is the Rookie of the Week, giving the Bearcats four of the last five rookie accolades.
Burks-Wiley averaged 23 points and 10 rebounds in two games last week, while shooting 60.9% from the floor and 84.2% from the charity stripe. She added 2-for-3 three-point shooting, two assists and two blocks for good measure. On Wednesday, Burks-Wiley's 28-point performance against Stony Brook helped the Terriers capture their sixth straight home-court win. She went 11-for-13 from the foul line in the effort. The senior followed that performance with her seventh double-double of the season with 18 points and 11 rebounds at New Hampshire on Sunday. Burks-Wiley is second among America East scoring leaders with 18.5 ppg, and third in rebounding with 7.6 rpg.
In the absence of senior center Laura Franceski, Rebane stepped in as a post presence for Binghamton, averaging 12.5 points and 10 rebounds per game. The rookie forward also chipped in 1.0 assist per game, a block and a steal. Rebane had a game-high 15 points and a career-high 15 rebounds in Saturday's game at Stony Brook. It marked her first career double-double as well as the most rebounds turned in by a Binghamton player since 2001. Earlier in the week, Rebane posted 10 points and five rebounds against second-place Hartford. The freshman ranks fourth on the Bearcats with 7.8 points per game and second with 5.3 rebounds per contest. Against America East opponents, she is averaging 8.7 points and 6.4 rebounds.
University of Hartford junior forward Erica Beverly (Bridgeport, Conn./Kolbe Cathedral) turned in her seventh double-double of the season against Marist on Sunday with 18 points and 11 rebounds. She also posted 13 points and five rebounds earlier in the week against Binghamton... University of Maine junior forward Brittany Boser (Palmer, Mass./Palmer) scored in double-figures in both games this past week, including a 21 point-performance in Sunday's game against UMBC. She also led the Black Bears to their first AE win with 13 points against New Hampshire on Thursday... Stony Brook split its two games last week, and was led by sophomore forward Kirsten Jeter (Elmont, N.Y./Elmont), who averaged a double-double of 13.5 points and 10 rebounds... UMBC's Carlee Cassidy (Syracuse, N.Y./Westhill) scored 22 points at Maine Sunday to record her 31st-straight double-digit performance dating back to last season... In Albany's only game of the week against Vermont on Saturday, junior guard Britney McGee (Bakersfield, Calif./West) netted a team-high eight points, while playing tight defense and not letting up a field-goal in her match-up.
The Report Is In
Collegiate Basketball News put out its weekly Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) report this morning, an unofficial look at what the NCAA Selection Committee looks at throughout the season and at the end of the regular season to pick out tournament participants. America East is ranked 22 out of 32 conferences, down one spot from last week. Neither of the two top-rated teams in the conference, Hartford at 72 and Boston U. at 91, budged this week. This is something we will keep an eye on for the rest of the season as the fourth tie-breaker for championship seeding is the RPI ranking, and that could come into play if the Terriers and Hawks tie atop the conference standings at the end of the regular season.
And Then There Was One
Boston U. became the last undefeated squad in America East this season when it knocked off Hartford at Case Gym on January 21, and it remains undefeated at 11-0. The Terriers' start in conference play is the best in program history, and their current 12-game winning streak is the longest for a Terrier women's hoops team. Boston U. is one of 12 teams in the country to still be undefeated in conference play, and is tied for 8th in active win streaks around the nation.
The Difference A Year Makes
For four teams this year, conference games are a little easier to come by than last season. Three teams--Boston University (11 wins), UMBC (5) and New Hampshire (4)--have already matched their AE win total from the 2007-08 season in five fewer games. For Michele Cherry's Stony Brook squad, its win total, four, has doubled since last year with still six games to go.
The Hartford Hawks hosted fellow mid-major giant Marist on ESPN2 Sunday for February Frenzy, where a record 3,217 fans showed up at Chase Arena to watch. Though the Hawks fell in overtime, 78-73, it was the largest in-house attendance at Chase to watch a women's basketball game.
Four schools held their Pink Zone games this past weekend, raising over $10,000 through ticket sales, auctions and donations at both women's and men's basketball games. All nine America East schools are taking part in the WBCA's Pink Zone week, an initiative to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer via women's basketball games across the country. The campaign, which officially kicked off this past weekend, takes place at games between February 13-22, 2009. Below is a list of Pink Zone dates for each America East school.
Pink Zone Dates
Albany: Saturday, Feb. 21, vs. Hartford
Binghamton: Saturday, Feb. 21 vs. Maine
Boston U.: Sunday, March 1 vs. Maine
Hartford: Sunday, Feb. 15 vs. Marist (ESPN2)
Maine: Sunday, Feb. 15 vs. UMBC (WABI)
UMBC: Saturday, Feb. 21 vs. Stony Brook
New Hampshire: Sunday, Feb. 15 vs. Boston U.
Stony Brook: Tuesday, Feb. 17 vs. Vermont
Vermont: Saturday, Feb. 14 vs. Albany
Vermont's May Kotsopoulos (Waterloo, Ontario/Waterloo Collegiate Institute) and Maine's Brittany Boser (Palmer, Mass./Palmer) were named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District I Teams earlier this month by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Based on nominations from school SIDs, CoSIDA members voted Kotsopoulos to the All-District I first team and Boser to the All-District I second team. Kotsopoulos, the reigning America East Scholar-Athlete for women's basketball, is a business administration major with a 3.62 GPA. Boser, a repeat selection for the honor, is a chemical engineering major with a GPA of 3.85.
Were They Right?
The nine America East coaches named five players to the preseason all-conference team as predictions for who would make first-team all-conference at the end of the season. Below is a look at how those five players have done this season.
Player, Team Stats
E. Beverly, UH 11.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.1 bpg
C. Pilypaitis, UVM 14.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 5.3 apg
J. Burks-Wiley, BU 18.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg, .474 fg%
C. Cassidy, UMBC 22.1 ppg, .792 ft%, 3.0 3fgm
D. Delva, UH 12.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, .625 fg%
What A Good Shot
Maine's Boser currently leads the conference in free-throw percentage (.847), and has a cushion of more than .03 over the next closest in the rankings. If Boser were to remain on top through the end of the 2008-09 season, she would become the third different Black Bear to lead America East in that statistic in the last five seasons. Bracey Barker did it in 2006-07 and Ashley Underwood led the conference in 2004-05. As of last Friday, Boser was 22nd in Division I free-throw percentage. She also joins two Terriers--Burks-Wiley and Amarachi Umez-Eronini--as the only players to rank in the America East top-10 of both free-throw and field goal percentages.
Hitting The Mark
Five players have reached 1,000 career points this season, with the latest being Vermont's Amy Rosenkrantz (Tempe, Arizona/Corona del Sol) who did so last week at UMBC. Rosenkrantz became the third Catamount to reach the milestone this season, the first time in program history that has happened. The other players who have earned their 1,000th career point earlier this season are junior Courtnay Pilypaitis (Vermont), senior Jesyka Burks-Wiley (Boston U.), junior Carlee Cassidy (UMBC), and junior May Kotsopoulos (Vermont).
Just as America East players have done to the 1,000-point plateau this season, they are also rapidly surpassing 500 career rebounds. Pilypaitis, Burks-Wiley and Rosenkrantz each collected their 500th rebound this season and are the only active members of the 1,000-point/500-rebound club in America East. While the former two collected the points prior to the rebounds, Rosenkrantz earned the status once compiling her 1,000th point, having had the 500 rebounds under her belt a week earlier.
Ringing Up Long-Distance Shots
UMBC junior guard Carlee Cassidy is a long-range shooter who ranks first in the conference with 3.0 three's per game. Last Sunday afternoon at UNH, Cassidy sunk her 70th triple of the season in the waning minutes of the game, which tied her for fifth all-time in the conference for three-pointers in a season, as well as tied the school's career record. She added three more to her resume last week to move up to second on the league's single-season list. The America East single-season record is 76 treys in 2003-04 by Northeastern's Melissa Kowalski. Kowalski also holds the record for three-point field goals attempted (218). Cassidy has attempted 211 long-range shots this season.
Dishing Out The Record
Boston University senior guard Christine Kinneary (Plainedge, N.Y./Holy Trinity) broke a school record that had been firm in place for over 25 years when she dished out her 478th career assist on February 4 at Albany. Kinneary now is fourth all-time in America East history with 494 career assists after surpassing Maine's Cindy Blodgett this past week.
Binghamton's Laura Franceski (Moscow, Pa./North Pocano) has had her own personal block party this season, rejecting 66 shots (3.3 blocks per game) to lead the conference. Franceski has 206 for her career, which is third in America East all-time. Her eight-block performance against Maine helped the cause, tying a school and America East mark for blocked shots in a single game. She became the fifth player in America East to reject an opponent 8 times in one game and it is only the second time it has happened in a conference game. Franceski is 14 swats away from matching Northeastern's Katasha Artis' career mark of 220 for second-place all-time.
Hawks In The Hunt
A trio of Hartford Hawks are still closing in on 1,000 points, and could possibly join the other five players who have already reached it this season.
Player, School Points PPG
Erica Beverly, Jr., UH 920 11.0
Diana Delva, Jr., UH 849 12.3
Marylynne Schaefer, Sr., UH 834 6.7
Home Court Advantage
Hartford has been exceptional on its home court, however, its 34-game home-court winning streak, the second-longest streak in Division I, came to an end Sunday against Marist. The last loss the Hawks had suffered at Chase Arena was November 29, 2006 to Seton Hall, 53-59. Marist can call the victory sweet revenge--last season, the Hawks ended the Red Foxes' 26-game win streak at the McCann Center.
Boston University reeled off 13 straight home wins and ranked as high as eighth in Division I, but also snapped its streak earlier this season. St. John's defeated the Terriers Tuesday, December 30 to give Boston U. its first loss at Case Gymnasium in nearly two years. The Terriers have won all six home games since that loss.
Midday Madness Sets Record
UMBC held its annual midday madness when it hosted Albany Wednesday, February 21 and set an attendance record of 1,517 to watch a women's basketball game at RAC Arena. Over 900 of those fans were local elementary and middle school students who came out for the event.
The top three three-point shooters in America East -- UMBC's Cassidy, Boston U.'s Kristi Dini and Albany's Britney McGee-- are all averaging over 2.3 three's per game. They're all also moving up their schools' respective career three-pointers rankings. Cassidy now owns the record at UMBC with 171 career triples, McGee is currently third all-time at Albany with 141, and Dini moved into sole possession of second-place at Boston U., currently at 168, with nine last week. Cassidy, Dini and McGee rank 2nd, 8th and 53rd, respectively, in all of Division I.
Going On 30
33-point performance against the Terriers became the ninth 30-point performance
in the league this year. Never have so many 30-point individual efforts come in
a single season since the 2004-05 season when there were also nine such
outbursts. That year, eight of the nine came against an America East opponent,
while this season, four have come during league play so far.
Join The Club
Vermont's Pilypaitis joined two more elite clubs after the game against North Dakota on Sunday, January 4. With five assists, she moved into Vermont's top-five career assists list, handing out 369 in her 2+ seasons. Since then, she now has over 400 helpers for her career. The junior guard also grabbed eight rebounds and became the 12th member of Vermont's 1,000-point/500-rebound club.
America East teams went a combined 16-40 (.286) in the month of December with five of those games coming against ranked opponents. UMBC (4-3) picked up a quarter of those victories as part of its five-game winning streak.
Fifteen regular-season tournaments highlighted the 2008-09 non-conference season, including two hosted by America East institutions, Vermont and Maine. UMBC took home the only tournament title this season with a 2-0 mark at the Iona Thanksgiving Classic.
UMBC has earned half of the rookie of the week awards during the 2008-09 season, earning 7 of 14 honors. Going back to last year, the Retrievers have actually won 9 of the past 16 rookie awards. Katie Brooks won weeks two and three this season, Michelle Kurowski earned recognition three weeks in a row, and Erin Brown took home the honor in weeks 7 and 11. Meghan Colabella won the America East Rookie of the Week the final two weeks of the 2007-08 season. The last time one team has dominated the rookie category was Vermont in 2006-07. Catamounts Courtnay Pilypaitis, May Kotsopoulos and Sofia Iwobi took home nine of 10 rookie awards spanning November 19, 2006-January 22, 2007.
Rookie Ramblings 2
Rookies around the league have made their way into their teams' respective starting lineups going into the conference season. Seven of the nine teams have started a rookie multiple times, and in most instances, consistently. Two freshmen have started every game this season-- Binghamton's Rebane and Andrea Holmes (Memphis, Tenn.). Boston U. and Vermont have not started a rookie this season, but they are also two of the most experienced squads this season.