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 win at 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, when they went 15-1 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

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

“When we played Hartford, they thought they were going to win the game. Regardless of our record, they never did anything to scare us into playing … and I knew UMass Lowell was going to do the same,” Mullen said. “And I made sure the players knew, like, they thought That they’re going to beat you because they’re a confident team, and if we don’t show up and play the way we’re capable of, they’re going to beat you.”

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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 Danes combined for just four points in the second quarter, and UAlbany, which led by as many as 10 in the first quarter, took a six-point halftime lead.

The Great Danes rebounded with a 23-6 third quarter and finished with their third-biggest win of the season.

Fifth-year guard Ellen Hahn led UAlbany with 14 points, three assists and three steals. Senior forward Helen Hagerstrand had 12 points, seven of which came in the third quarter, and senior guard Grace Heaps had eight points on 3-for-3 shooting and a team-high six rebounds. Ten Great Danes had at least one field goal.

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

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UMass Lowell took an early lead on baskets from Dowdy and junior guard Janie Edmonds, but UAlbany junior guard Kayla Cooper got to the line for two free throws and Heaps hit her first 3 of the night to give UAlbany a lead it would not relinquish. But, up by 10 points with just over two minutes remaining, the Great Danes squandered opportunities to extend the advantage.

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

UAlbany went more than eight minutes without a basket between the end of the second quarter and the start of the second quarter, and UMass Lowell scored just one basket in the period. Senior guard Fatima Lee, Mullen’s go-to for an offensive spark, had UAlbany’s only two field goals in 12 attempts.

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

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

The Great Danes fought back after halftime, making their first six shots and using a 19-3 run to open a 20-point lead while holding UMass Lowell to six points in the quarter.

“We just talked about that we’re going to be a tougher team and we’re not going to react to things that we have no control over. That we were going to stick together, we weren’t going to show our frustration, but we were going to play harder,” Mullen said.

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


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