Once a healthy Shalayna Johnson walked onto the court this season for the UMBC women's basketball team, the championship picture in the Northeast Conference might have changed.
Johnson has gone on a 14-game scoring tear that has helped carry the Retrievers (6-6 in NEC, 9-12 overall) from the bottom of the league to a half game out of fourth place. Suddenly, the Retrievers have to be considered a threat to win the NEC tournament and advance to the NCAA tournament.
Johnson missed the season's first seven games with a separated shoulder, and the Retrievers went 2-5.
The 5-foot-9 senior shooting guard from Washington has averaged 21.9 points overall; her 23.0 against NEC opponents tops the league. Johnson lit up league foes Robert Morris and Long Island for 36 and 30 points, respectively, and put in 28 at Mount St. Mary's.
It's not as if Johnson is taking high-percentage shots. She has made 50 of 156 three-point shots.
So, where has Johnson been the past three years? She averaged just 6.3 points as a freshman, 12.3 as a sophomore, and 6.8 as a junior.
"My first year I had trouble adjusting to the fast pace of the college game," Johnson said, "and then numerous injuries bothered me the next two seasons, before my shoulder went out on me while I was reaching for a rebound two days before the opener against Towson.
"I'm not ready to end my career. I hope to play in Europe."
Even though injuries have marred her collegiate career, Johnson could reach 1,000 points, needing to average 20 points (1.9 below her current average) in the final six games to make it.
Rim baffles Bowie State
The Bowie State men's basketball team has the best record (20-3) of any collegiate basketball team in Maryland, but the Bulldogs couldn't win Saturday night while shooting at what they claim was a bent rim in the second half of a key game at Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C.
Bowie shot just 29 percent from the field and scored only 16 points in the second half of an ugly 61-58 loss. The Bulldogs had shot 47.2 percent in the first half and were leading the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Eastern Division game, 42-34, at the half.
Bowie men's coach Luke D'Alessio and women's coach Russell Davis said the Shaw rim hangs low and is warped and bent.
Shaw's athletic director and basketball coaches could not be reached for comment, but spokesman Donal Ware was surprised by the claim.
"It's ridiculous. I laughed to myself," he said. "I can't believe what Bowie is saying. They didn't score in the last seven minutes, got out-rebounded, and both teams shot about 41 percent for the game."
The Shaw loss was the second straight for Bowie, which dropped from ninth to No. 17 in the nation. The Bulldogs bounced back Tuesday night with a 94-71 victory over Virginia State while Shaw lost to Virginia Union in another CIAA East game.
That moved Bowie (6-2) a game ahead of Shaw (5-3) into second place in the East, a half game behind Virginia Union (7-2).
Because Bowie owns the tiebreaker with Virginia Union (better conference record, 12-2 to 10-3), the Bulldogs would own first place if they can beat Saint Paul's (6-18, 3-10 conference, 2-6 East) on Saturday and Elizabeth City (9-15, 5-8 conference, 1-6 East) Tuesday on the road.
College of Notre Dame junior Becca Parrow has been named the Atlantic Women's Colleges Conference Most Outstanding Swimmer of the Year for the second consecutive year. Parrow captured the 50- and 100-yard freestyles and 200 backstroke at the AWCC championships at Hood College last weekend.
The Naval Academy ice hockey team (16-12-1) won its fifth straight game Sunday with a 4-3 victory over Maryland (12-11-2) behind senior Todd Lohstreter's hat trick. Lohstreter has 23 goals this season and 36 in his career, six coming two weekends ago, when Navy won its second straight Crabpot championship. Mids goaltender Jared Wilhelm, a junior, made 15 saves in the win over Maryland.
Maryland, led by junior pitcher Monica Cyphert, opens its softball season tomorrow against Boston College in the University of Georgia Invitational.
Navy is the preseason choice to win the Patriot League baseball championship.