Women’s Basketball Routs UMass Lowell 93-69 In Conference Opener
ALBANY, N.Y. – The University at Albany women’s basketball program (7-7, 1-0 AE) opened America East competition Wednesday night in a home game against UMass Lowell (3-11, 0-1 AE) at SEFCU Arena. The Great Danes put forth their best offensive performance of the season, defeating the Riverhawks by a score of 93-69.
“It was nice to open up conference play with a fun game,” said head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee. “We’ve been looking for a win that is enjoyable, and I think that one tonight was. We had some deficiencies defensively, but I think offensively we were on point.”
“We were finishing tonight,” said senior Imani Tate. “That was the biggest thing.”
UAlbany entered the game defending a 22-game home winning streak, dating back to the February 1, 2015 loss against Maine. Tonight’s victory extends that streak to 23, while the Danes remain perfect at SEFCU Arena this season, accumulating a 6-0 record.
Redshirt junior Jessica Féquière scored the first points of the game, followed soon after by Tate, giving the Great Danes a quick 4-0 lead. Tate’s field goal was the 550th of her career. By the first media timeout, the UAlbany led 12-4. Senior Bailey Hixson to this point had contributed six of UAlbany’s 12 points.
At several points during the first quarter, the Riverhawks were unable to penetrate the Danes perimeter defense, and were forced to launch long-range three-point shots as the shot clock wound down.
Junior Tiana-Jo Carter recorded her first blocked shot of the game late in the first quarter, marking the sixth consecutive game in which she has blocked at least one shot. Carter has failed to block a shot in only two of 13 games this season in which she has made an appearance.
By the end of the first quarter, UAlbany had more than doubled-up UMass Lowell, holding a 26-12 lead. The Great Danes shot 50.0% in the first quarter, and held the Riverhawks to 30.8% shooting.
Within 40 seconds of one another midway through the second quarter, both Tate and Féquière broke into double figures in scoring for the game. Later, on consecutive defensive possessions, Féquière drew a charge against a driving Riverhawks player.
At halftime, the Great Danes led 52-28, having shot 61.1% from the floor in the second quarter and 55.0% for the first half. They led the Riverhawks 34-6 in points in the paint, 24-3 in points off of turnovers, 11-3 second chance points, 10-0 in fast break points, and 15-0 in bench points.
Tate led the way for UAlbany with 16 points, followed by Féquière with 11 and redshirt-junior Bose Aiyalogbe with nine. Tate also led in rebounds with five, and freshman Khepera Stokes led the team with six assists. Perhaps most importantly, the Great Danes as a team committed only three turnovers in the first half.
The Great Danes’ offense maintained its scoring pace in the third quarter, but the efficiency had dropped off somewhat. Additionally, the Riverhawks came out of the halftime break keeping pace with the scoring. Midway through the quarter, both teams had scored 13 points.
During the latter part of the third quarter, UAlbany started pulling away once more, opening up a 30-point lead in the final minute. Ultimately, the Riverhawks kept the quarter-scoring within three, and UAlbany held a lead of 77-50 entering the fourth. The Great Danes efficiency recovered from the beginning of the quarter, rising from 36.4% midway through to 52.9% at the end.
UAlbany eclipsed its previous season-high of 88 points with 4:18 remaining in the fourth quarter. Though the scoring slowed and the efficiency dropped in the final quarter, the Great Danes ultimately won 93-69.
Tate led all scorers with 22 points. Féquière added 20 of her own, marking the first time this season multiple Great Danes have scored at least 20 points. Aiyalogbe finished the game with 11. Tate led in rebounds with nine. Stokes finished the evening with nine assists and zero turnovers. Tate was one rebound and three assists shy of a triple-double. As a team, the Great Danes committed just seven turnovers, compared to 26 assists.
“Khep is, I think, hands down the fastest player in the America East,” said Coach Mac. “And for her to have the game she did, coming off of 11 turnovers, was exciting to see. I think she showed what she can do tonight.”
The Great Danes led the Riverhawks in all five categories for the game: 54-22 in points in the paint, 37-10 in points off of turnovers, 15-3 in second chance points, 10-2 in fast break points, and 38-9 in bench points.
“I love looking down at the stat sheet and seeing everybody contributing,” said Coach Mac.
“Every day we just have to come out,” said Féquière. “No matter who we’re playing, no matter what time it is, we just have to go out there and play hard for 40 minutes.”
Next, the Great Danes host Stony Brook on Saturday, January 7. Tipoff is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.
“Stony Brook is one of the top teams in the conference right now,” said Tate. “And they’re very athletic. So we have to buckle down as a team and, defensively, really key in on their players.”
“It’s a matchup I think we’re all looking forward to,” said Coach Mac. “The game will be a great gauge to see how we’ve improved over the first half of the season and how we can continue to get better.”