UAlbany women’s basketball moves to 4-0 in America East

The University at Albany women’s basketball team remained undefeated in the America East with a 62-38 victory over UMass Lowell on Saturday afternoon.

The Great Danes (10-8, 4-0 America East) are off to their best start in conference play since the 2015-16 season, going 15-1 and reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Last year’s team went 3-0 early in the conference schedule before losing to then-winless Hartford on the road. UAlbany coach Colleen Mullen reminded the Great Danes of the loss before the game.

“When we played Hartford, they believed they were going to win. They never seemed scared to play us, regardless of our record … and I knew UMass Lowell was going to do the same,” Mullen said. “And they did I know the players know they think they’re going to beat you because they’re a confident team and they’re going to beat you if we don’t show up and play the way we’re capable of playing.”

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In the first half, it looked like the River Hawks (1-12, 0-3) had a chance to repeat Hartford’s success. The River Hawks and Great Dange each scored just four points in the second quarter, but UAlbany, which led by as many as 10 in the first quarter, went into halftime with a six-point lead.

The Great Danes rallied from a 23-6 third-quarter deficit to finish with their third-biggest win of the season.

Fifth-year guard Ellen Hahne led UAlbany with 14 points, three assists and three steals. Senior forward Helene Haegerstrand scored 12 points, including seven in a third-quarter outburst, and senior guard Grace Heeps had eight points on 3-for-3 shooting and a team-high six rebounds. Ten Great Danes made at least one field goal.

Sophomore Amaya Dowdy had 15 points, eight in the first quarter, seven rebounds and three steals for the River Hawks. Senior guard Jaliena Sanchez added nine points and three assists.

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UMass Lowell took an early lead on baskets by Dowdy and junior guard Jaini Edmonds, but UAlbany junior guard Kayla Cooper got to the line for two free throws and Heeps hit her first 3 of the night to give UAlbany a lead it would not relinquish. But with a 10-point lead with just over two minutes to go, the Great Danes missed opportunities to extend their lead.

“It still looked like we were going soft, like we weren’t playing our style of basketball, in terms of just being aggressive,” Mullen said.

The offense was more difficult to score in the second as UAlbany went more than eight minutes without a field goal between the end of the first and the start of the second quarter, and UMass Lowell managed just one field goal in that span. Senior quarterback Fatima Lee, Mullen’s go-to offensive spark, held UAlbany to just two field goals in 12 attempts.

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“We got good looks at the basket, but we just didn’t finish strong. We were getting some offensive rebounds and coming up empty,” Mullen said.

The River Hawks didn’t fare any better, getting two free throws from sophomore guard Ivory Finley early in the period and ending it with a layup by senior guard/forward Kaylen Banwareesingh in the final minute.

The Great Danes made up for it after halftime, hitting the first six shots and going on a 19-3 run to open a 20-point lead while holding UMass Lowell to six points in the quarter.

“We just talked about being a stronger team and not reacting to things we had no control over. To stay together, to not show our frustration, but to play harder,” Mullen said.

The Great Danes shot 45.3 percent from the field (24-for-53) and a season-high 58.3 percent from 3 (7-for-12). The River Hawks went 15-for-50 from the field (30 percent) and 1-for-17 from 3 (5.9 percent), a season low.


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