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Women’s Basketball Season Ends with NIT Blowout at UMass

Christian Hince | March 23, 2023

Renowned guard Ellen Hahne played her final game of eligibility Friday.

Brent Warzocha/UAlbany Athletics

On Friday, the University at Albany women’s team saw their season come to a close after getting rolled in the first round of the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, 73-48.

The Great Danes led for much of the early going, taking an 11-8 advantage over UMass at the 5:48 mark of the first with a pullup three from guard Fatima Lee. However, the Atlantic 10 runner-up followed with a 9-0 run and led for the rest of the game.

UAlbany kept it a game in the first half, trailing 23-17 after one and going into the locker room down 36-26. Following a pair of Kayla Cooper free throws to open the third, a UMass 10-point run turned the affair into a blowout.

It got worse in the fourth, where a 12-point run put UMass up 73-43 with under two minutes left. Free throws from Cooper & forward Lucia Decortes and a 3-pointer from guard Taylor Moffat, her first UAlbany basket, with less than 30 seconds left trimmed the final deficit.

UAlbany shot dreadfully, putting up a season-worst 23.2% from the field and a second-worst 17.4% from three. “We had open shots that we didn’t knock down,” head coach Colleen Mullen said. “Similar to our championship game, we went cold offensively.” UAlbany made five baskets the entire second half.

Cooper posted a double-double in the loss, scoring 18 on 6-20 from the field and 6-8 from the line alongside 11 rebounds, nine of them on the offensive glass. “She’s undersized but she has such athleticism and she’s so explosive,” Mullen said.

UMass also had a pair of double-doubles from their forwards, with Angelique Ngalakulondi scoring 17 on 6-10 from the field and 5-6 from the charity stripe, tallying 15 rebounds, and Sam Breen scoring 16 on 7-12 shooting and notching 11 boards.

Ellen Hahne struggled mightily in her final game, shooting 1-10 from the field and 1-4 from the charity stripe. Nevertheless, Friday marked the end of a strong closing year for her where she led the team in rebounds, assists, and steals, earning all-conference third team honors.

After coming off the bench at Wake Forest for two years, Hahne transferred to UAlbany for the 2020-21 season. “I didn’t come on a visit or anything,” she said. “I simply had another Swede [Haegerstrand] here who I talked to a lot, then I talked to Coach Mullen two times on the phone and I was like, ‘OK I’ll come here.’”

Decortes also exhausted her eligibility on Friday, after spending this season as a key defensive contributor off the bench. Seniors Haegerstrand, Lee, Grace Heeps, Taniya Hanner all have one more year, but haven’t declared their intentions for 2023-24.

UAlbany closes the season at 22-12 overall and 14-2 in conference, their best America East record since 2015-16. It also marks the second season in a row the Great Danes have partook in postseason play.

“It is an amazing accomplishment,” Mullen said. “I could not be more proud of their selflessness, work ethic, and resiliency.”


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