Women's Basketball Starts Strong, Fades At Maine, 84-71
BANGOR, Maine – Three days after clinching their first road victory in-conference, and only their second road win of the season, the University at Albany women’s basketball team found themselves in the first of two regular season meetings with Maine, the Danes’ opponent in last year’s America East title game. On Maine’s home court, UAlbany started strong, taking a 43-32 lead into halftime, but ultimately fell to the Black Bears 84-71.
“It was a really frustrating second half for us,” said head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee. “I think our intensity faltered on the defensive end, and, rebounding-wise, we just didn’t crash and do the same things we did in the first half.”
“We shot the ball extremely well in the first half,” said Coach Mac, “perhaps the best half of shooting we’ve had all season. I knew that could continue, but also that it could not continue, so you need to maintain the consistency on defense, and that’s where we dropped off a bit in the second half.”
After sophomore Heather Forster won the opening tip, redshirt-junior Jessica Féquière hit at three on UAlbany’s first possession. Maine took a 5-3 lead a few possessions later on a three of their own. Seniors Bailey Hixson and Imani Tate hit threes on the Danes next two possessions. By the mid-way point, the Great Danes held an 11-8 lead.
Maine tied the game at 16 with just over a minute to go in the first. Hixson hit her third three pointer of the quarter to give UAlbany back the lead. Freshman Khepera Stokes ended the quarter with a running teardrop in the paint to give the Danes a 21-16 lead.
With just 3:32 remaining in the second, UAlbany had opened a 12-point lead, thanks in part to five consecutive points by Féquière. By halftime, UAlbany led 43-32. Tate led the team with 15 points, followed by Féquière with 11, and Hixson with nine. Tate also led the team with four rebounds, and Stokes led with three assists. For the first half, the Great Danes shot 6-9 from three.
UAlbany led Maine 20-18 in points in the paint, 15-6 in points off of turnovers, 5-3 in second chance points, and 4-0 in fast break points. Maine held an 11-4 advantage in bench points.
Maine came out firing in the third quarter, opening up with an 11-2 run in the first four minutes to cut the lead to two. Maine took a two-point lead immediately after the media timeout, extending the run to 17-4.
“Maine was able to convert on some of our turnovers,” said Coach Mac, “because instead of post passes to the interior, the turnovers came on the perimeter, which were easy to turn into two points in the other direction.”
Féquière gave UAlbany a 54-41 lead on a three-point play with two minutes left in the third. By the end of the quarter, Maine led 58-57, having outscored UAlbany 26-14 in the period. The Black Bears, who shot 2-8 from three in the first half, shot 3-6 in the third.
Maine opened the fourth with a three-point play to take a four-point lead. The Black Bears started heating up from behind the arc, opening up an 11-point lead on consecutive three-pointers. With just over five minutes remaining, Maine had outscored UAlbany 14-4 in the quarter.
Maine’s lead extended to 16 with 3:37 remaining. Forster ended UAlbany’s scoring drought with a backdoor layup off a sideline pass from Tate. Maine answered right back with a layup on the other end. A quick 4-0 run and a couple of defensive stops had cut the lead to 12 with 2:20 remaining. The Great Danes would come no closer, and UAlbany ultimately fell by a score of 84-71.
Tate led all scorers with a season-high 32 points. She also led the Danes with eight rebounds, and Stokes finished with five assists. For the game, UAlbany shot 13-14 from the free throw line, and 6-11 from three.
Maine led UAlbany 38-36 in points in the paint, 24-19 in points off of turnovers, and 24-10 in bench points. UAlbany led 8-2 in fast break points, and the teams tied 13-13 in second chance points.
Next, the Great Danes return home for the final two games of their first cycle of America East opponents. The team will host Vermont on Thursday, January 26 for Commitment to Education Day for a 12:00 p.m. tipoff, and will then host Hartford on Saturday, January 28 for a 2:00 p.m. start.