Women's Basketball Edges Hartford 82-71
ALBANY, N.Y. – The University at Albany women’s basketball team (11-10, 5-3 AE) hosted Hartford (14-7, 5-3 AE) for this season’s Big Purple Growl on Saturday in the team’s final game of the first cycle through the America East. After jumping out to a 30-point lead, the Great Danes weathered a Hartford scoring onslaught that drew the game within six points in the fourth quarter to win 82-71.
“I thought the first three quarters were as good as we have put together all year,” said head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee. “The fourth quarter was a little bit of a different story, both with us trying to hang on to that lead and also fouling a little bit more than we had been.”
The Great Danes, who wore purple at home in honor of the American Cancer Society, used a starting lineup of Khepera Stokes, Imani Tate, Bailey Hixson, Jessica Féquière, and Heather Forster for the sixth time this season, taking over as the most frequent starting lineup the team has presented this season.
After taking Hartford took a 2-0 lead, UAlbany went on a 9-0 run before the Hawks scored again. The Danes’ run extended to 16-2 before Hartford finally scored with just under three minutes remaining. By the end of the first, UAlbany led 16-8.
Four minutes into the second quarter, Hartford had pulled within four. The Great Danes stretched the lead back to 12 on an 8-0 run over the next two minutes, and to 16 by the end of the half, taking a 41-25 lead.
Trpcic led a balanced scoring attack for UAlbany through the first two quarters with eight points. Féquière had seven, and Forster and Tiana-Jo Carter each had six. Carter led the team with seven rebounds in just nine minutes, and Stokes, Trpcic, and Cassandra Edwards each led with two assists. As a team, UAlbany out-rebounded Hartford 27-11 in the first half.
UAlbany led Hartford 20-10 in points in the paint, 12-8 in points off of turnovers, 11-6 in second chance points, and 19-12 in bench points. Neither team scored points in transition in the first half.
Hartford opened the third on a quick 4-0 run. With 7:36 left in the third, Tate checked back in after leaving the game with 57.6 remaining in the first with an injury. The Danes run since the beginning of the third extended to 15-4 after consecutive three-pointers by Tate and Trpcic.
The Great Danes’ lead extended to 30 with 1:36 left in the third on a behind-the-back pass from Tate to Stokes, who scored the layup in transition. By now, UAlbany’s run had grown to 24-8. By the end of the third, UAlbany led 70-42, and had outscored Hartford 29-17 in the quarter. Tate scored 14 of UAlbany’s points in the third, after scoring four in the first.
“We owned them on the boards early in the game,” said Coach Mac. “We put up a shot and we crashed like crazy; they put up a shot and they only got one opportunity. That changed in the fourth quarter when we weren’t as aggressive.”
Hartford opened the fourth on a 12-2 run, cutting the Great Dane lead to 18. Hartford scored the first six points after the media timeout to cut the lead to 12 with just over five minutes remaining in the game. Stokes drew a foul on a transition layup and converted the free throw for the three-point play to slow Hartford’s run. The Hawks responded immediately with a three pointer on the other end.
Hartford cut the lead to 10 with four minutes remaining, and further to six with two minutes remaining. Tate hit two free throws to extend the lead to eight, and hit a three-pointer on UAlbany’s next possession to bring the lead to 11.
Forster drew a charge on Hartford’s ensuing possession to give UAlbany the ball with 54 seconds left in the game. After drawing the game back within nine, Hartford fouled Féquière with 27 seconds left. Féquière converted both free throws, and then gathered a defensive rebound off an air ball on the other end to seal the game for UAlbany, 82-71. Hartford had outscored UAlbany 29-12 in the fourth quarter, and had out-rebounded the Danes 18-14 in the second half.
Tate led all scorers with 23 points. Carter led UAlbany with nine rebounds in 13 minutes, and Stokes led with five assists. The Great Danes led the Hawks 36-30 in points in the paint, 27-26 in points off of turnovers, 12-11 in second chance points, 8-4 in fast break points, and 26-16 in bench points.
Next, the Great Danes will begin their second round through the America East when the visit UMass Lowell on Wednesday, February 1. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.