By Akin Taylor | March 6, 2023
Photo credit: Kathleen Hellman (UAlbany Athletics)
The University at Albany Great Danes women’s basketball team won a tightly fought battle Thursday night against the UMass Lowell River Hawks 59-51.
The game took off to a slow start with Helene Haegerstrand scoring the first point for Albany. UMass Lowell’s Mili Carrera would answer with a 3-pointer followed by a turnaround jumper by Jaini Edmonds.
The Great Danes struggled to knock down a three through the first quarter, going 0-5 from behind the arc due to UMass Lowell's stingy perimeter defense. The Danes finished the low-scoring first quarter down 10-8, shooting 4-13 from the field.
The Great Danes came out of the break to score five points from Guard Ellen Hahne and Guard Morgan Haney, 13-10. With the clock dipping below seven minutes, UML went in front with the next four points, only to be answered by a Haney three.
At halftime, the score was a 25-25 tie after two field goals from the River Hawks’ Amaya Dowdy and Jaliena Sanchez along with two Kayla Cooper free throws. To adjust to the 50% three point shooting from UML, the Great Danes switched to a 2-3 zone defense to start the half to limit the perimeter shots.
A layup from the Great Danes’ Grace Heeps started a 5-0 run to begin the second half. UML went on an 8-0 scoring run, forcing a Great Dane timeout. At the 5:45 mark of the third, Kayla Cooper and Haney made two field goals to give UAlbany the lead, 35-33.
While the River Hawks tied it at the 1:40 mark with a Dowdy and-one layup which knotted it at 39, the Great Danes went into the final quarter with a multi-possession lead, 43-39, after two final field goals, including Cooper's buzzer-beater.
Helene Haegerstrand and Heeps helped extend UAlbany lead to 46-39. The River Hawks immediately answered with five points of their own. The Great Danes shortly took control however when Ellen Hahne, assisted by Lilly Phillips, hit two back to back 3-pointers before Cooper added a field goal for a double-digit advantage, 54-44, at 3:35.
River Hawks would close the lead to 55-48, but they’d never draw closer however. Lily Phillips' series of free throws and a Carne layup would set the final score at 59-51 UAlbany. Head coach Colleen Mullen was proud of her team’s performance on both ends of the floor, but more specifically, “proud of how we stuck together and relied on our defense to propel our offense.”
Next, the Great Danes play the University of Maine Bears for the third time this season. They split the series 1-1 with margins of two and three points in each game, and now they clash in the semifinals in Albany.