Thursday, March 5, 2009

Playoff Picture Getting Clearer

Wednesday night, Boston University, Hartford, Albany and Binghamton picked up wins to clinch seeds for the upcoming tournament or take a step forward in the overall picture. The Hawks solidified themselves as the 2 seed with a 57-47 win over Vermont, who will enter the tournament as the 3 seed. The Bearcats will definitely be playing in the 4-5 game for the fifth-straight year, as they clinched the fourth seed with a 56-53, buzzer-beating win over New Hampshire up in Durham. Binghamton's Jackie Ward broke a tie with under 5 seconds remaining by draining a three-pointer.

The Terriers had to work hard, but they did leave Baltimore with a 73-66 win over UMBC, extending their unbeaten streak to 16 and moved to 15-0 in conference play. The victory also gave them the regular season championship outright.

Albany avenged an earlier loss to Stony Brook and won at Pritchard Gym, 57-40. With the win, the Great Danes still have a chance to finish as high at 7th. If they were to tie with Maine with 3-13 records, the tiebreaker would be decided on whether UNH or UMBC earn the #5 seed. The Black Bears split the series with UNH, while the Great Danes split the series with UMBC; each were swept by the other opponent. Whichever tiebreakers go, Albany and Maine would face-off in the first round game Thursday night at Hartford if the Great Danes fall to the Terriers Saturday afternoon.

The bracket will be finalized and announced Saturday night after the regular season finale is complete. All eyes will be on that last game--Stony Brook at Maine, 7 p.m.--as that will determine the final pairings for the tournament.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Terriers Clinch Top Seed and At Least Share of Regular Season Title

Boston University, with a 71-57 win over Maine on Sunday at Agganis Arena, clinched the top seed for the Championship and at least a share of the regular season crown. Terrier seniors Kristi Dini and Jesyka Burks-Wiley each scored 17 points to pace the home team. Dini went 5-for-9 from beyond the arc, including 4 treys in the first half. Burks-Wiley, who played the first half with a face mask after breaking her nose in the Hartford game last week, tallied a team-high 7 rebounds. Another senior, Black Bear Colleen Kilmurray, led Maine with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

The Terriers guaranteed themselves a postseason berth. If they do not win the conference tournament and earn a bid to the NCAA Championship, Boston U. will receive the America East's automatic berth to the WNIT. Another win for the Terriers or a loss by Hartford will make Boston U. the sole regular season champion and remove the possibility of a first-place tie in the America East standings.

Stay tuned later tonight for scenarios for Championship seeding going into the last week of the regular season.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

All About The Triples

Albany's Britney McGee went off for a career-high 30 points Wednesday night, including 7 three-pointers, leading the Great Danes to the 92-80 win over UMBC and snapping Albany's 10-game losing streak. Her fifth triple of the night pushed her into sole possession of second-place on the program's all-time three-pointer list. She now only trails alumnus Jen Schumacher's 197, which McGee should be able to eclipse during her senior season next year. UMBC was led in the game by freshman Michelle Kurowski's 25 points, while the league's leading scorer, Carlee Cassidy, was held to 4 points.

Despite leading for much of the way, Stony Brook fell victim to UNH in the end, 50-49. Junior Candace Williams paced the Wildcats with 17 points and 14 rebounds, but freshman Lauren Wells and junior Amy Simpson also ended up in double figures. Williams also added 3 blocks on the night. The Seawolves led in several categories, including steals (11-1), turnovers (9 against UNH's 20) and bench points (15-12), but ultimately, New Hampshire's rebounding (53-30) gave it the late-game surge to take its first lead of the game with 3 seconds remaining in the contest.

The third game of the night resulted in Vermont's fifth-straight win, 61-44 over Maine. Sy Janousek went 5-for-6 from behind the arc and finished with a team-high 17 points. Courtnay Pilypaitis ended up with 13 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals for another well-balanced night. The Catamount defense, which has proved to shut down conference opponents better than anybody else in the league, forced 20 turnovers and 13 steals, while limiting Maine's leading scorer, Brittany Boser to just 5 field goal attempts and and 2 points. Senior Colleen Kilmurray recorded a game-high 19 points for the Black Bears and pulled down a team-high 7 rebounds.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dini's Three Huge In Thriller

Kristi Dini's 77th three-pointer of the season with 7 seconds left in regulation of last night's Boston University-Hartford game was doubly huge. The drained trey not only broke the America East single-season record (in 5 fewer games than the previous record), it also tied the game and sent it into overtime. The Terriers eventually won the game, 80-75, to give the Hawks their second consecutive home-court overtime loss and snap their 40-game conference home win streak. Both senior guard Christine Kinneary and rookie guard Alex Young registered career highs of 27 and 19 points, respectively, to lead the Terriers in the victory. On the other side, Hartford's Erica Beverly finished with 13 points and a career-high 16 points. The Boston U. win gave the Terriers the tiebreaker over the Hawks if there's a tie at the end of the season, and a win on Sunday at home against Maine would officially clinch at least a share of the regular season title.

The same record that Dini set Tuesday night could be eclipsed as soon as tonight, as Carlee Cassidy and the Retrievers travel to Albany to face the Great Danes at 7 p.m. Dini and Cassidy entered the week each needing 3 treys to break the record, tied with 74 each on the season. Here are all of tonight's match-ups:

Vermont at Maine 7 p.m.
The Catamounts have won four in a row and six of their last seven games... The Black Bears are coming off a homestand in which they went a solid 2-1... Vermont won the first match-up this season, 86-51... Maine junior Brittany Boser leads the conference with a free-throw percentage of .847.

*UMBC at Albany 7 p.m.
The Retrievers beat the Great Danes, 76-63, in Baltimore earlier this season... UMBC junior Carlee Cassidy needs four more treys to break the America East single-season three-pointers made record, while Albany's Britney McGee needs four triples to move into a tie for second-place for the school career record... Cassidy and McGee are 2nd and 3rd, respectively, this season in the conference for 3's made.

*Stony Brook at New Hampshire 7 p.m.
The Seawolves and Wildcats are tied for 6th-place in the league standings, with UNH having the tie-breaker with the 75-65 win over Stony Brook earlier this season... Stony Brook sophomore Kirsten Jeter has a 7-game double-figure streak intact, during which she's surpassed 20 points three times... UNH junior Candace Williams leads AE with 8 rebounds per game.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

We've Been Down This Road Before

Tonight's Boston U.-Hartford game is nothing we haven't seen before. This will be the 5th time over the past 2 seasons, 7th over the past 3 seasons, and 10th time over the past 4 seasons that the Terriers and Hawks have met, and one could argue that each of these meetings, if not all of them, had a lot on the line. This one should be no different, with the winner more than likely taking the top seed for the tournament and the regular season crown.

The Terriers defeated the Hawks earlier this year, 76-65 at Case Gym, but Boston did the same last year before falling to Hartford twice at Chase Arena, once in the regular season and once in the Championship title game. But this year, the Terriers have four starting seniors and are riding a 13 game winning streak into West Hartford with a 12-0 record in America East play. The Hawks meanwhile return to Chase for the first time since having Marist snap their 34-game home court winning streak, in overtime, on February 15. What would a second straight loss at home do to the Hawks' confidence? Or will the last loss at home, as well as the loss to the Terriers back in January, drive the momentum for the Hawks?

If Boston U. wins tonight, and gets through the remaining schedule of Maine, at UMBC, and Albany unscathed, the Terriers will win the regular season title and enter the tournament in Hartford as the #1 seed. If Hartford wins tonight, and both teams win out (the Hawks go to Stony Brook and play Vermont and New Hampshire at home), there will be a tie for first-place, co-champions will be named, and the Hawks will actually get the #1 seed based on College RPI Report ratings.

When the Hawks and Terriers tip-off at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet tonight (Leah Secondo and Kara Wolters on the call) there will be a lot on the line. But isn't there always when these two teams play?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Pink Zone Events Continue This Weekend

This weekend's games will feature three more Pink Zone events at University at Albany, Binghamton University and UMBC. So far, America East teams have raised over $16,000 for the campaign against breast cancer. The schedule of all America East schools' Pink Zone games are posted on the league web site, along with more information on the campaign.

After this past week's games, we have a log jam in the middle of the league standings with records of 5-7 or 4-7. With only 5 games remaining, this weekend should hopefully begin to spread the pack out. The match-ups for Saturday and Sunday are:

Saturday, February 21
Hartford at Albany 2 p.m.
The Hawks defeated the Great Danes, 73-47, at Chase Arena when these two teams met earlier this season... On January 31, Hartford junior Diana Delva had one of her best-shooting games of the year, going 8-for-10 from the field... Albany freshman Tabitha Makopondo has been ripping down 6.1 rebounds per AE contest to lead the team.

Maine at Binghamton 2 p.m.
Binghamton is looking to snap a three-game losing streak against Maine, who the Bearcats defeated earlier this year, 62-49... Binghamton, the best three-point shooting team in the conference (.349) is going up against the second-stingiest three-point defense in the league in Maine (.302).

Stony Brook at UMBC 7 p.m.
The Seawolves, half a game behind the Retrievers in the AE standings with 5 games remaining, won the first match-up this season, 78-62... Stony Brook sophomore Kirsten Jeter scored her career-high 24 points in that game and hit 10 field goals... Led by junior Carlee Cassidy's 2.9, UMBC leads the conference with 6.2 three's per game.

Sunday, February 22
New Hampshire at Vermont 1 p.m.
In Durham on February 1, the Catamouts upended the Wildcats, 69-48... Vermont and UNH are two of four teams in the conference to have two players in the top 10 of scoring (Candace Williams, 3rd, 15.8 ppg; Courtnay Pilypaitis, 4th, 14.5; May Kotsopoulos, 5th, 13.8; Amy Simpson, 9th, 12.3)... Pilypaitis and Williams also rank 1-2 in rebounding with 7.9 and 7.7 per game.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Crazy Finish In Binghamton

If you weren't inside the Events Center Wednesday night, and were just following along with the live stats, you would have gone to bed believing the outcome of the Binghamton-Boston University game was different than what actually took place. The live stats showed a 75-74 overtime win for the Bearcats, who finally welcomed senior center Laura Franceski back to the lineup from off the bench. The ACTUAL outcome was a 76-75 win for the Terriers, extending their win streak to 13 games and improving their AE record to 12-0.

Binghamton's Jackie Ward hit a field goal with 7 seconds left in the overtime period to put the Bearcats ahead, 75-73. The shot sunk just as the shot clock expired and the horn consequently went off, which was confused with the horn indicating the end of the game. Unfortunately, the Bearcats bench confused it with just that and rushed the court in celebration. Boston U. still had a shot to win the game, and because of the premature celebration and a technical foul, was given two foul shots. Aly Hinton hit one of two, the Terriers controlled the rebound, and senior Amarachi Umez-Eronini drove to the basket to secure the game-winning layup. Umez-Eronini was the hero of the game, not only scoring the winning two points, but finishing with 11 points, a career-high 11 assists, 8 rebounds and 5 steals. Hinton and senior Jesyka Burks-Wiley each netted 20 points.

In other action, Maine salvaged the split with Albany, defeating the Great Danes, 59-51 up at Alfond Arena. Black Bear Colleen Kilmurray earned Maine's AE Player of the Game with 11 points and 9 rebounds, while Kristin Baker finished with 10 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists. Sophomore Janea Aiken scored a game-high 19 points for the Great Danes on 8-of-15 shooting.

Hartford returned from Baltimore with another decisive win over the UMBC Retrievers, 72-43. The Hawks outshot the Retrievers, 45% to 24%, and put an end to junior Carlee Cassidy's 31-game double-figure scoring streak, as she only record 4 points in 27 minutes. Hartford's Ilicia Mathis tallied a agme-high 17 points on 6-of-12 from the field. Junior Erica Beverly led the Hawks with 9 rebounds. Freshman Michelle Kurowski was the only Retriever in double-figures, finishing with a team-high 10 points on the night.