Women's Basketball Opens NCAA Tournament vs. #1 Connecticut
ALBANY, N.Y. – Last week, the University at Albany women’s basketball program won its sixth consecutive America East title and earned its sixth consecutive automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. On Monday, the team finally learned its opponent, drawing top overall seed Connecticut, who will host the game on their home floor in Storrs, Conn.
Joining the Great Danes and the Huskies at Storrs are #8 Syracuse and #9 Iowa State, who will play afternoon game on Saturday. The winner of both games will play on Monday for a berth into the sweet 16.
The Great Danes finished second in the America East standings in the regular season behind only New Hampshire, who navigated the conference slate with a 15-1 record. In the tournament, UAlbany first drew #7 Vermont, and then #6 Hartford, before meeting tournament #4 Maine in a rematch of last year’s one-point title game. Maine had dispatched New Hampshire in their semifinal matchup.
Despite a slow start in the final, which saw UAlbany score just six points in the first quarter, the Danes kicked things into gear for the remainder of the game, ultimately winning by 16. Senior Imani Tate was named Most Outstanding Performer for the tournament, and was joined on the All-Tournament team by freshman Mackenzie Trpcic.
Last season, the Great Danes earned their first-ever NCAA Tournament win, upsetting #5 Florida in the first round 61-59. The previous four years saw UAlbany fall to first round opponents Texas A&M, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Duke, by an average of 9.8 points. The four games include near-upsets of North Carolina in 2013 (59-54) and Duke in 2015 (54-52). After defeating Florida last year, the Great Danes fell to Syracuse in the second round, 76-59.
Connecticut has played one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country this season, featuring matchups against Baylor, Notre Dame, and Maryland. Baylor and Notre Dame each earned #1 seeds in the women’s tournament, and Maryland is the #3 seed in Connecticut’s bracket. The Huskies have won their conference tournament each of the last four years, placing second in 2012-13. This year’s roster features the 2017 America Athletic Conference Co-Players of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
UAlbany struggled early in the season away from SEFCU Arena, but righted the ship as conference play started, winning five of its last seven on the road to close the regular season.
The game will be broadcast on ESPN2 and on the radio at 104.5 FM The Team.
NCAA FIRST ROUND: #1 CONNECTICUT (32-0, 16-0 AAC) | SATURDAY, MAR. 18, 11:00 A.M. | STORRS, Conn.
Last we met: L, 78-44, December 29, 2005, Hartford, Conn.
Tale of the Tape:
- UAlbany is 6-9 on the road this season
- UConn is 15-0 at home
- UAlbany has won 12 of its last 13 games
- UConn has won 107 consecutive games and four consecutive national championships
- UAlbany is 1-5 in its current NCAA Tournament run
- The Huskies are winning their games by an average of 32.8 points
- The Huskies have won 11 national championships, and have played in 17 final fours, including each of the last nine
- Five of UAlbany’s 13 players have appeared in all 32 games this season
- UAlbany leads the America East in field goal percentage (.419) and assists (15.6 apg)
- UAlbany averages more steals per game (10.8) than Connecticut (10.3)
- Imani Tate leads the America East in scoring (19.1 ppg) and was named tournament M.O.P.
Series History: Connecticut leads 1-0
2015-16 Record: 38-0, (18-0 AAC), NCAA Champions
Top Offensive Player: Katie Lou Samuelson, So., G, (21.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.1 apg)