CAMBRIDGE, Mass.-- Helped by two strong performances and a milestone mark last week, Boston University's senior forward 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 third straight period. The rookie of the week was handed out to Binghamton's freshman point guard Andrea Holmes (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell) who helped the Bearcats to a 1-1 week.
Burks-Wiley posted back-to-back 20+ point games, including a 24-point performance vs. New Hampshire that matched her career high and lifted her past the 1,000-point plateau. She became the 17th player in Boston University women's basketball history to surpass that milestone. Earlier in the week against Binghamton, Burks-Wiley recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 22 points and 11 rebounds. For the week, she finished shooting 47.2% (17-36) from the field, going 11-for-12 from the foul line, and added three assists, three steals and a block. With the 2-0 mark last week, Burks-Wiley has led the Terriers to a 4-0 start in conference play.
Holmes averaged 20 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists in two games, a win and a loss both to league foes. She poured in a career-high 32 points in Binghamton's win over Stony Brook on Sunday. It represents the most points scored in a game by a Binghamton player since 2004 and it is the 12th-highest individual game effort in school history. Holmes went 3-for-3 from beyond the arc and 11-for-13 from behind the foul line, while shooting 9-for-17 from the floor. In the first game of the week against league-leading Boston University, the rookie scored eight points and corraled five rebounds. Holmes is the first Bearcat handed a weekly honor from the conference office this season.
UMBC junior guard Carlee Cassidy (Syracuse, N.Y./Westhill) led the Retrievers in scoring in both games last week, averaging 19 ppg, 2.5 rpg and 2.0 apg.... Hartford's Ilicia Mathis (Hamden, Conn./Career), the reigning two-time rookie of the week entering last week, scored yet another career high. She netted 17 points in 19 minutes for the Hawks against UMBC, including nine of Hartford's first 13 points... Junior Candace Williams (Norfolk, Mass./St. Raphaels) posted a career-high 27 points for New Hampshire against Boston University on Saturday on 10-of-17 shooting from the floor... Sophomore forward Tonya Young (Canaan, N.H./Mascoma Valley Regional) of the University of Vermont scored a career-high 24 points and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds to post her first career double-double to lead the Catamounts past Albany on Saturday afternoon... Stony Brook's Misha Horsey (Wyncote, Pa./Cheltenham) averaged 15 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals in two games against Vermont and Binghamton last week... Junior forward Brittany Boser (Palmer, Mass./Palmer) led the Maine Black Bears in two games last week, scoring 17 points against Albany and 19 points at UMBC. She's also pulled down at least seven rebounds in four straight games, including a season-high nine boards against the Retrievers on Saturday.
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 still ranked 20 out of 32 conferences after the first week of the conference season. Hartford remains the top-rated team in America East at 55, up four spots from last week. Bosotn University is still creeping up towards the top 100, now at 112, up five steps from the previous week. Albany (five spots) and Maine (one spot) are the only other teams that made a positive gain. Vermont, Binghamton and New Hampshire each fell by double-figures, while Stony Brook lost eight spots.
Boston University (4-0) and Hartford (3-0) have gone undefeated in conference play so far to set up a battle to decide first-place this week. The Terriers and Hawks play at Case Gym Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in a rematch of the 2008 America East Women's Basketball Championship title game. Last year's contest in Boston also provided one of the most memorable moments of the 2007-08 season when Boston U. guard Kristi Dini made a half-court buzzer-beater to win the game for the Terriers.
Underway as Expected
Already, the top four teams picked in the coaches' preseason poll have surfaced to the top of the standings, even if they are scrambled just a bit. Boston U. and Hartford, who battled against each other in the 2008 America East Championship title game, are the only unbeaten teams. The Terriers were picked to finish third, while the Hawks were predicted to finish second. Vermont (3-1) and UMBC (2-2), sitting third and fourth in the current standings, were selected first and fourth at the beginning of the season. Binghamton (2-2), Albany (1-2) and New Hampshire (1-2) are also in the middle of the pack, while Stony Brook and University of Maine are still in search of their first America East win this season.
Join the Club
Vermont's Courtnay Pilypaitis (Ottawa, Ontario/St. Peter) 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. The junior guard also grabbed eight rebounds and became the 12th member of Vermont's 1,000-point/500-rebound club. Pilypaitis is the only active player in the league to achieve that milestone, but could be threatened by the end of the 2008-09 season.
Hitting the Mark
Burks-Wiley became the second player this year in America East to reach 1,000 career points, and the 96th player in America East history to do so. Her 1,000th came at home against New Hampshire on Saturday, January 17 as part of her career-high 24 point effort. The senior guard is also just six rebounds away from 500 for her career. Burks-Wiley would follow Pilypaitis as the second player to achieve that accomplishment this season. They would also be the only two active players around the league to claim membership to the 1,000-point/500-rebound club.
While Pilypaitis and Burk-Wiley have already reached the mark, several other America East players are eyeing the 1,000 point mark. Below is a list of players who may reach that mark by the end of this season, their total points and their 2008-09 points per game average as of today.
Player, School Points PPG
Carlee Cassidy, Jr., UMBC 988 21.9
May Kotsopoulos, Jr., UVM 974 14.4
Amy Rosenkrantz, Sr., UVM 931 8.5
Erica Beverly, Jr., UH 817 10.0
Marylynne Schaefer, Sr., UH 785 7.0
Both Albany's Britney McGee and UMBC's Carlee Cassidy are currently third on their schools' career three-pointers made list. McGee, with 130 in her career, and Cassidy, with 149, are among the best down-town shooters in the league. Cassidy ranks second in America East with 2.9 made per game, while McGee is third averaging 2.6 threes per game and is second in 3-point field goal percentage (.414). Nationally, the pair of junior guards also ranks 14th and 42nd, respectively, in three-pointers made. Boston University's Dini is atop the league, 8th nationally, with 3.0 triples per game.
Raising the Bar
The January 10th conference games saw everybody bring their "A" game. Six of the eight teams in action Saturday had a player hit a career high in points, and three players set a personal best in the UMBC-UNH game alone. Players who scored career highs in points include Player of the Week Burks-Wiley (24 points), Hartford's Lisa Etienne (20), Albany's Janea Aiken (33), Binghamton's Viive Rebane (16), New Hampshire's Amy Simpson (28), and UMBC's Topé Obajolu (15) and Tonishea Mack (12).
Going on 30
Holmes' 32-point performance against the Seawolves became the seventh 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 nine such outbursts. That year, eight of the nine came against an America East opponent, while this season, two have come during league play.
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.
Fifteeen 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 controlled the rookie of the week award this season, earning six of the first seven honors of the 2008-09 season. Going back to last year, the Retrievers have actually won eight of the past twelve rookie awards. Katie Brooks won weeks two and three, Michelle Kurowski earned recognition three weeks in a row, and Erin Brown retained UMBC's possession in week 7. 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. Four freshmen have started every game this season-- Binghamton's Viive Rebane and Andrea Holmes, and UMBC's Michelle Kurowski and Erin Brown. Boston U. and Vermont have not started a rookie this season, and they are also two of the most experienced squads this season.
Home Court Advantage
Hartford has been exceptional on its home court, winning 31 straight contests at Chase Arena, tied for the second-longest streak in Division I. The last time the Hawks lost at Chase Arena was November 29, 2006 to Seton Hall, 53-59. Hartford will play at Chase next on Saturday, January 24, against conference foe Stony Brook.
Boston University reeled off 13 straight home wins and ranked as high as eighth in Division I, but snapped that 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.
On the Glass
Earlier this season, it looked like New Hampshire junior forward Candace Williams and UMBC sophomore forward Meghan Colabella were trying to one-up each other on the glass. Williams set a new career high on December 14 with 15 rebounds in a win against Northeastern. Colabella took it one step further exactly a week later posting up for 16 rebounds. While Williams matched that with 16 rebounds December 29 against Morehead State, Colabella went to another level with a career-high 20 rebounds, a new conference season-high, against Rider on the same day. All four performances were part of double-doubles. The previous 20-rebound performance in America East was by Boston University's Jesyka Burks-Wiley against Stony Brook at the America East Championship on March 11, 2006.
Boston University senior guard Christine Kinneary (Plainedge, N.Y./Holy Trinity) registered the second-most assists in a season last year with 214, and is getting closer to another America East record. Kinneary is currently third all-time in career assists at Boston University and is 21 assists shy of breaking into the top-five in America East history. Former Terrier Andrea Higgins tallied 475 assists between 1989-93 for fifth all-time in the league annals.
Five America East teams reached the 80-point water line the week of December 1 led by New Hampshire's 89 points on Friday night against Colgate. UMBC put up 85 points against Navy on Wednesday for their fifth such performance this season, Binghamton poured in 83 points against Niagara on Monday, Boston University took advantage of Brown for 81 points, and Hartford netted 80 on Saturday against St. Joseph's. All five of those performances resulted in wins for the America East squad.
Doubling Up The Triple-Double
Vermont junior guard Courtnay Pilypaitis completed a feat twice that most players can't accomplish ever in their careers. Pilypaitis recorded her second career triple-double on Saturday, December 6 against Holy Cross with 18 points, 10 assists and 11 rebounds. The junior earned her first triple-double, and the first in Vermont's women's basketball history, last winter against conference-foe Hartford. There have only been three triple-doubles in America East over the past five seasons and Pilypaitis is the owner of two of them. Before the Catamount, the previous one belonged to Boston University's Adrienne Norris in February 2004 against New Hampshire.
Retriever Double Threat
In UMBC's game against Towson on Wednesday, December 3, two Retrievers hit the 30-point mark for what is believed to be only the fifth time ever in Division I history. Junior Carlee Cassidy poured in a career-high 32 points, while her backcourt teammate, freshman Michelle Kurowski posted 30 points. The last time two teammates each scored 30 points in the same game was Purdue's Shereka Wright (34) and Katie Geralds (32) at Iowa on February 10, 2004.
Now that the first month of the season is complete, it's time to see where the league is in non-conference play to date. America East teams are 18-34 in out-of-conference contests, and have a .500 or above record against six diferent conferences (ACC, Big South, Colonial, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, and Patriot). Last season through three weeks of play, America East had a 22-27 non-conference record and had an even record or better versus 10 leagues.
Pair of Nines
A pair of guards dished out a then-conference-high nine helpers during the week of November 24. Albany guard Britney McGee handed out nine assists in the Great Danes' loss to VCU on Saturday, November 29, and finished just one assist shy of her first career double-double. Twenty-four hours later, freshman Katie Brooks also recorded nine assists in a 92-70 victory over UMES. Brooks finished one assist and three boards shy of a triple-double.
Most Outstanding, Most Impressive
UMBC rookie Katie Brooks earned the Most Outstanding Player award at the Iona Thanksgiving Classic after the Retrievers finished the tournament 2-0. The freshman averaged 18.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.5 blocks per game against Western Michigan and UMES for a stellar performance. In the first game against Western Michigan, Brooks finished with a game-high 23 points, including the final seven points of the first frame to give UMBC a three-point intermission lead. On the second day, she nearly had a triple-double and handed out nine assists, the most helpers by a Retriever since January 2007.
What a Win
The University of Hartford pulled off one of the biggest wins in America East history. On Friday, November 21 at the DePaul Invitational, the Hawks defeated #6/5 Duke, 53-51, for the program's first win over a top ten opponent ever. It was the second time an America East squad upended a top ten opponent, and the highest-ranked victim. University of Maine defeated Alabama, ranked 10 in the AP poll, 75-73, on January 5, 1995.
Free-Throwing into the Books
The 64 combined fouls in the UMBC-Northern Illinois game on Saturday, November 22, which the Retrievers won, 88-73, was a new NCAA record. The mark knocked off a 22-year old record of 56 combined personal fouls in 1986 between Eastern Michigan and Kent State. UMBC took advantage, hitting 41 of 53 free-throw attempts.