Women’s Basketball Falls vs. Miami
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Looking to right the ship following the season-opening loss to #19/19 Kentucky, the University at Albany women’s basketball team (0-2) played their second game in as many days, this time against #14/20 Miami (1-1) in the final game of the Kentucky Classic. UAlbany kept the score close early, but ultimately Miami pulled away, finishing with a final score of 77-53.
“I thought we played hard,” said head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee. “I don’t think we quit, even when we got down. But Miami’s high level of athleticism made it hard for us to match them in their transition. I think every time we reversed the ball on offense, ran a play, or looked to move the ball and work as a team, we got the shots we wanted. And we knocked them down today, which was a difference from yesterday.”
The starting lineup remained the same as the game against Kentucky, except for sophomore Heather Forster starting in place of junior Tiana-Jo Carter, who was shaken up during yesterday’s game. For the second consecutive night, the Great Danes faced a Nancy Lieberman watch list player in Miami’s Adrienne Motley.
The Hurricanes opened the game with a full-court press that drew turnovers as the Great Danes tried to push their up-tempo attack. By the first media timeout, the Hurricanes had converted six forced turnovers into nine points. As the first quarter wore on, however, UAlbany was able to more effectively break through Miami’s press and get the ball into their offensive half.
With one minute remaining in the first half, the Great Danes took their first lead of the night, 18-17, thanks to a three-point shot from Hixson. UAlbany led 20-19 at the end of the first. Senior guard Imani Tate had already matched her total game point total from the Kentucky game, 9, by the end of the first quarter.
Miami opened the quarter with a 12-2 run, taking a 31-22 lead before UAlbany scored again. The Hurricanes led 46-30 at the half, with the largest point disparity coming from the bench, where Miami outscored UAlbany 17-6 in the first half.
“Miami really hit the offensive boards hard,” said Coach Mac. “I thought that we weren’t always in a great position to block them out, but it was also because we played a lot of zone, which can make it easier for a team to crash on offense and get those offensive rebounds, especially when you’re as athletic as Miami is.”
After three, the Hurricanes led 66-41, and held advantages in points in the paint, second chance points, fast break points, and bench points. The Great Danes held a 20-16 advantage in points off of turnovers. A low-scoring fourth quarter saw the final score wrap 77-53 in favor of Miami.
“We’ve had to pick and choose what we’re going to work on in practice,” said Coach Mac, “because we can’t get great at everything this early in the season. So this last couple of weeks we picked defense to really work on. That’s what we’ve spent a lot of time in practice working on. I think it showed in these two games, where our offensive flow maybe looked a little sketchy, but a lot of good things happened in both our man and zone defense.”
Tate crossed the 20-point threshold with six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. She finished with 23 points and six rebounds, leading the team in both categories. Freshman Mackenzie Trpcic led the team with five assists. For the second consecutive game, every Great Dane player who entered the game scored.
Also for the second consecutive game, the Great Danes held a Nancy Lieberman watch list player to single-digit points. However, four Hurricanes scored double-digit points.
For the full game, Miami held a 30-28 edge in points in the pain, a 19-12 edge in second chance points, a 6-2 edge in fast break points, and a 29-14 edge in bench points. UAlbany outscored Miami 30-19 in points off of turnovers.
The Great Danes will depart Kentucky nursing a 0-2 record, but can look forward to playing at home for the next two games.
“These two games really prepared us for the team we want to become as the season progresses,” said Coach Mac. “We want to be as good as these two teams that we just played. These games also helped initiate our three freshmen, who I thought had a really good weekend.”
Next, the Great Danes will host their home opener against Army on Wednesday, November 16 as the first leg of a double-header with the men’s team, who will play Oneonta in their home opener after the conclusion of the women’s game. The women’s tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
“We’re really looking forward to the home opener,” said Coach Mac. “And that’s the best thing about playing these two high-caliber teams. It’s really going to prepare us to now go and play West Point, who I know is a really good team. I think it will help us focus and do the things we need to do both offensively and defensively.”