Women's Basketball Wins Sixth Straight, Defeats Binghamton 80-63
ALBANY, N.Y. – The University at Albany women’s basketball team hosted Binghamton Thursday night in its penultimate home game of the 2016-17 regular season, and fourth game in nine days. As was the case with the matchup earlier this season, the game featured the top two scorers in the America East in UAlbany’s Imani Tate and Binghamton’s Imani Watkins. Additionally, Binghamton and UAlbany ranked first and second respectively in the America East in blocked shots. The Great Danes outscored the Bearcats by a little bit each quarter to ultimately earn a 17-point, 80-63 victory, the team’s sixth straight.
“I thought tonight was a really good team win,” said head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee. “We finally closed out a game in the fourth quarter, we came out rebounding well, and seeing four players score in double digits made for a really good evening for us.”
On a day when classes and activities around campus were cancelled due to inclement weather, there was some question early in the day whether or not the game would be played. But as the day wore on and the storm cleared the decision was made to play the game as originally scheduled.
For the fourth time in the last five games, the Great Danes opened up a seven point lead before the first quarter media timeout. The lead had grown to nine by the time the media timeout arrived, 13-4. Senior Bailey Hixson had scored seven of UAlbany’s 13 points through the first five minutes of the game.
Binghamton used a 6-0 run to bring the game within three with 3:19 remaining in the first quarter. UAlbany extended the lead back to six, before Binghamton once again closed to within three. The three-point lead held steady through the end of the quarter, at which point UAlbany led 18-15. Binghamton had ended the first quarter on an 11-5 run over the final 4:57.
After scoring four quick points to open the second quarter, UAlbany forced Binghamton into a shot clock violation. Junior Tiana-Jo Carter successfully converted a three-point play to give the Danes a 10-point lead with seven minutes remaining in the quarter. Binghamton started inching back to pull the game within six, but UAlbany was able to pull away again, earning another 10-point lead off of a pair of free-throws from Carter. At halftime, UAlbany led by six, 36-29.
Hixson led UAlbany in scoring through the first half with 10 points, followed by redshirt-junior Jessica Féquière with eight, and Carter with seven. Carter also led with five rebounds, and four Great Danes, Féquière, Tate, Carter, and redshirt-junior Bose Aiyalogbe each had two assists.
The Great Danes led the Bearcats 24-12 in points in the paint, 10-6 in points off of turnovers, 11-2 in second chance points, and 12-2 in bench points. The teams were tied through the first half in fast break points with two apiece. UAlbany had locked down Binghamton on the perimeter, allowing just one three-pointer in 10 attempts.
On the opening possession of the third quarter, Hixson blocked a shot attempt from Binghamton’s Imani Watkins, returning the favor Watkins had paid her in the first half on a transition layup. Hixson then went down on the ensuing offensive possession for the Great Danes and hit a three to give UAlbany a 10-point lead.
By the midway point in the third, UAlbany led 51-42. The third quarter scoring had already nearly matched the average scoring for the first two quarters. Hixson had scored 16 points on 6-8 shooting, one point shy of her career-high. With four minutes remaining in the quarter, Hixson hit a jumper for her 17th and 18th points for a new career-high.
At the end of the third quarter, UAlbany led 65-54. Three Great Danes, Hixson, Féquière, and Trpcic had scored in double figures, and Tate and Carter each had eight.
Sophomore Heather Forster drew a foul on a successful layup with 6:51 left in the fourth, giving UAlbany a 14-point lead, its largest of the night. Forster converted the free throw to extend the lead to 15.
Tate scored five straight points late in the fourth to give UAlbany at 16-point lead. The Great Danes would go on to win by a final score of 80-63.
Four UAlbany players scored in double figures. Hixson led the way with a career-high 20 points on 8-12 shooting including 4-7 from three. Tate rallied late to score 18 points, Féquière scored 12 and Trpcic scored 10. Hixson also led the team with nine rebounds, and Carter followed with eight. Tate and Trpcic each had five assists.
“I think it’s exciting to see so many players scoring,” said Coach Mac. “We talk about how the most important time of the year is building up to the tournament, and the more players you can get production out of the more successful, generally, you’re going to be. It’s exciting to see everyone start clicking right now.”
UAlbany outscored Binghamton 50-26 in points in the paint, 22-15 in points off of turnovers, 18-6 in second chance points, 8-2 in fast break points, and 23-18 in bench points. The Danes held Binghamton to 16.7% shooting from beyond the arc, and held Watkins to just 10 points on 3-19 shooting. Collectively, the Great Dane defense held Binghamton’s three starting guards to 5-33 shooting for the whole game. Both team shot over 85% from the free throw line.
Next, the Great Danes will visit UMBC on Wednesday, February 15 for a 7:00 p.m. tipoff, before returning home to host Maine on Saturday, February 18 when UAlbany will celebrate its senior night.