CAMBRIDGE, Mass.-- Boston University senior Amarachi Umez-Eronini (Washington, D.C./Woodrow Wilson), this week's America East women's basketball player of the week, turned in back-to-back stellar efforts to help lead the Terriers to their program-best ninth and 10th consecutive victories last week, including an overtime win on the road against the preseason coaches' favorites. Binghamton freshman Andrea Holmes (Memphis Tenn./Mitchell) earned the rookie of the week accolade for the second consecutive week, and third time overall, after stepping up big last week when it counted the most.
Umez-Eronini, an all-defensive team member last season, led the Terriers to a 2-0 week with 15.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.5 steals and 3.0 assists per game. Against Albany on Wednesday, the 5'10" senior guard scored 17 points and added nine rebounds and three steals. In Boston U.'s overtime victory at Vermont on Saturday, Umez-Eronini had a standout game with 13 points, four assists and matched a career high with six steals. In the overtime, she hit both of her free-throw attempts to help the Terriers top the Catamounts. She shot 47.1% from the field and 82.4% from the foul line in the two wins, both of which came on the road and extended Boston U.'s win streak to 10 games. Umez-Eronini, receiving the award for the first time in her career, leads America East in steals (2.57 spg), is 5th in field-goal percentage (.486), and is 10th in assists (3.00 apg).
Holmes averaged 18.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.0 apg and 1.5 spg in two games last week in which the Bearcats went 1-1. The freshman had a game-high 24 points in Binghamton's win at Albany on Saturday afternoon, and scored the Bearcats' final nine points as they rallied from four points down in the final 1:30 of play. It marked the third time this season Holmes has scored at least 20 points in a game. Earlier in the week, Holmes had a team-best 12 points, five rebounds and three assists against Vermont. In addition to being tied for the team lead in scoring (10.5 ppg), Holmes is averaging 13.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists against America East Conference opponents. She has scored at least eight points in each of Binghamton's last 11 games.
Junior forward Candace Williams (Norfolk, Mass./St. Raphaels) helped New Hampshire split two games last week with 12 points against Hartford and a double-double of 19 points, 11 rebounds against UMBC. She also dished out a career-high four assists against the Retrievers... Albany freshman Tabitha Mokopondo (Gainesville, Fla./Buchholz) had a tall task of covering Boston University's Jesyka Burks-Wiley on Wednesday, and became the first player to hold the senior to under 10 points during conference play, while forcing her into five turnovers as well... UMBC junior guard Carlee Cassidy (Syracuse, N.Y./Westhill) led all players with 24 points against New Hampshire on Sunday. She canned four triples to tie the school's career three-pointers made record (168)... In Stony Brook's only game of the week, sophomore forward Kirsten Jeter (Elmont, N.Y./Elmont) finished with 17 points, six rebounds, three steals and three blocks against Maine... Junior forward Erica Beverly (Bridgeport, Conn./Kolbe Cathedral) averaged 12 points and five rebounds in two Hartford wins last week. She shot 66.7% from the floor and collected five assists, seven blocks and two steals.
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 21 out of 32 conferences, which is consistent with last year's ranking. Hartford remains the top-rated team in the conference at 72, but Boston U. joins the Hawks in the top-100 at 91. This is something we will keep an eye on for the rest of the season as the fourth tie-breaker 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 9-0. The Terriers' start in conference play ties the program's best start in 1987-88, and their current 10-game winning streak is the longest in Boston U. program history. Boston U. is one of 14 teams in the country to still be undefeated in conference play, and is tied for 11th in active win streaks around the nation.
Sailing Smooth On The High Sea(s)wolves
Everything is going smoothly for the Stony Brook Seawolves right now as they ride a three-game win streak, their longest of the season and longest since February-March 2007 when they won seven in a row. They have also already surpassed their conference win total from a year ago (2-14) and currently sit in seventh-place with a 3-5 record.
The Hartford Hawks will host Marist in a non-conference game televised on ESPN2 on Sunday, February 15 in the biggest day for women's basketball on the network. This weekend's February Frenzy will feature eight national women's basketball games in two time slots on Sunday, and the Big Monday showdown the next night all in an effort to promote the WBCA's Pink Zone Initiative. The Hartford-Marist match-up, to be televised at 1 p.m. from inside Chase Arena, is the only mid-major game picked for February Frenzy. It is the first regular-season, nationally-broadcast America East women's basketball game, and the first regular-season, nationally-broadcast game, men's or women's, from an America East home court. The Hawks and Red Foxes played in a defensive battle last season, which Hartford won, 49-32 in Poughkeepsie.
The WBCA's breast-cancer awareness program, Pink Zone, is back for a second year and America East is proud to be a participant in this year's event. Pink Zone, which will take place at games between Febuary 13-22, 2009, will raise awareness and funds for the cause across the country. All nine America East schools will select a home game to participate and will plan various promotions and events around the Pink Zone theme. The highlight will be February 15 when Hartford hosts the MAAC's Marist at Chase Arena for a Pink Zone game televised at 1 p.m. on ESPN2. It will be the only non-BCS match-up televised during the network's "February Frenzy." 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 last week 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.
Ringing Up Long-Distance Shots
UMBC junior guard Carlee Cassidy is a long-range shooter who ranks first in the conference with 3.2 three's per game. On 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. 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 195 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 last Wednesday at Albany. Kinneary now is fifth all-time in America East history with 481 career assists, and is threatening Maine's Cindy Blodgett who sits in fourth-place with 487.
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.
Hitting The Mark
In an 11-day span, three America East players became 1,000-point scorers last month. Boston University's Burks-Wiley became the second to do so this season against New Hampshire on Saturday, January 17. On Wednesday, January 21, UMBC's Cassidy joined Vermont's Courtnay Pilypaitis (Ottawa, Ontario/St. Peter) as the second junior to eclipse the mark this season. Cassidy knocked down a three late in the second half at home against Albany to reach the plateau. With a NESN television audience on hand, another Catamount, junior guard May Kotsopoulos hit the mark against Hartford on January 27. Kotsopoulos became the 98th player in America East history to become a 1,000-point scorer.
Just as America East players have done to the 1,000-point plateau this season, they are also rapidly surpassing 500 career rebounds. Pilypaitis and Burks-Wiley each collected their 500th rebound to become the only active members of the 1,000-point/500-rebound club in America East. Vermont senior Amy Rosenkrantz (Tempe, Arizona/Corona del Sol) tallied #500 last week at Binghamton, and enters this week 13 points shy of 1,000 points, making her likely to become the third active member of the elite club shortly.
While four players 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
Amy Rosenkrantz, Sr., UVM 987 9.1
Erica Beverly, Jr., UH 889 10.6
Marylynne Schaefer, Sr., UH 830 7.1
Diana Delva, Jr., UH 824 12.3
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 is tied for first at UMBC with 168 career triples, McGee is currently third all-time at Albany with 140, and Dini moved into a second-place tie at Boston U., currently at 159, with two last week. Cassidy, Dini and McGee rank 2nd, 8th and 53rd, respectively, in all of Division I.
Going On 30
Cassidy's 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. She is now one away from 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 more than half of the rookie of the week awards during the 2008-09 season, earning 7 of 13 honors. Going back to last year, the Retrievers have actually won 9 of the past 15 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 Viive Rebane and Holmes. Boston U. and Vermont have not started a rookie this season, but they are also two of the most experienced squads this season.
Home Court Advantage
Hartford has been exceptional on its home court, winning 34 straight contests at Chase Arena, 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 Sunday, February 15, against the MAAC's Marist.
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. The Terriers have won all five home games since that loss.