Women’s Basketball Stumbles In Season Opener At Kentucky
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The new-look University at Albany women’s basketball (0-1) team made its long-awaited debut Saturday night in its first of two games in the Kentucky Classic, against the host Wildcats (#19/19; 2-0). After briefly holding a tie with Kentucky early in the first quarter, the Wildcats pulled away to the tune of 70-46 final score.
“It was a little bit of a disappointing evening for us,” said head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee. “I thought we guarded the three-point line pretty well tonight. I think we could have pushed tempo a little bit more than what we did. Definitely disappointed in the way we shot the ball, but happy with the way we performed on the boards.”
Tate scored the first points of the season. She grabbed an offensive rebound and then was tied up by Kentucky’s Nancy Lieberman watch list player Makayla Epps. Epps started falling out of bounds and tried to throw the ball off Tate to retain possession, but Tate instead caught the attempt and smoothly drained a layup, giving the Danes a 2-0 lead.
UAlbany and Kentucky matched one another blow-for-blow through the first part of the game, knotting the score at seven before the Wildcats made a run. At the first media timeout, Kentucky had taken a 14-7 lead.
After the first quarter, the score was 19-11 in favor of Kentucky.
Halfway through the second quarter, the Great Danes maintained a lead in points in the paint, having outscored the Wildcats 10-8 in that regard. In the latter part of the quarter, however, Kentucky surged, ending the half with a 14-10 margin over the Danes in points in the paint. At halftime, Kentucky led 36-19.
At the half, Kentucky also held an 8-2 edge in points off of turnovers, and UAlbany led in second chance points 6-2. Both teams had eight points contributed from their bench players.
Tate scored her first career three-pointer with one minute left in the third quarter. After three, Kentucky led 53-24. The third was the most competitive quarter for the Great Danes, scoring 15 points to the Wildcats’ 17.
By the end of the game, the Wildcats outscored UAlbany in the pain 28-22, in points off of turnovers 17-6, in second chance points 9-8, and in fast break points 4-0. UAlbany outperformed Kentucky in bench points 19-14. The Great Danes were able to hold Kentucky’s Epps to eight points for the game.
The Wildcats didn’t have to worry about Epps’ difficult night, as Evelyn Akhator picked up the slack, scoring 28 points on 10-15 shooting, and grabbing 13 rebounds.
Tate led the way for the Great Danes, with nine points, six rebounds, and four assists, leading the team in points and assists. Bose Aiyalogbe and Cassandra Edwards led the team with seven rebounds each. The Danes trailed Kentucky for the game in total rebounds 40-44, but did grab 16 offensive boards to the Wildcats’ 13.
“What was a little bit disappointing is that we’ve worked a lot on our transition offense,” said Coach Mac. “We slowed it down against their zone and I couldn’t get them out of that pace. But I thought we did a pretty nice job rotating in our man-to-man defense. That was a positive because I inherited a team that’s never played man-to-man.”
The Great Danes have a quick turnaround, taking the court again on Sunday, November 13 against #14/20 Miami in the final game of the Kentucky Classic. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
“Miami is very athletic,” said Coach Mac, “and they have guards that aren’t one dimensional. They can shoot the three and drive, so that’s going to really challenge us defensively.”