By Christian Hince | February 2, 2024
A 14-game winning streak for the University at Albany which spanned across the entirety of December and January ended Feb. 1 against Vermont in a 64-59 loss. It was their first defeat since the re-opening of the Broadview Center after a 9-0 start in the arena.
Great Dane freshman Deja Evans (#22) led all scorers with 21 points Thursday night.
Photo Credit: Savanna Stoddart / The ASP
UAlbany was down 62-59 with 15 seconds left when Kayla Cooper’s layup was blocked by Catamount forward Anna Olson, all but cementing the result.
Great Danes head coach Colleen Mullen defended the decision to go for two. She figured that ending up down one and testing Vermont’s free throw shooting, which is sixth of ninth in the America East, was the safest bet.
“You can go back and you can question everything that you do but at the same time, you're in the moment,” Mullen said.
Trying from beyond the arc didn’t seem practical on a night where the Great Danes only attempted six threes. “Our goal is always to take what the defense gives us and they were running us off the three point line,” Mullen said.
The Great Danes trailed for all but three minutes, scoring the opening bucket but quickly falling behind 8-2. “We weren't ready to play, we didn't have a strong first quarter, and that set the tone,” Mullen said.
Vermont’s scoring was led by Anna Olson, whose 14 points on 5-9 from the field and 4-6 from the charity stripe was complemented by a team-leading six rebounds. UAlbany’s Deja Evans primarily had the task of defending her while the Great Danes were in man-to-man defense.
“[Olson is] definitely a very aggressive and good post player,” Evans said. “It was hard to defend her and I just had to be equally aggressive with her.”
Evans had her way on the offensive end, leading all scorers with 21 points on 7-12 from the field and 7-10 from the free throw line while adding six rebounds. She missed about a minute of game time late in the fourth after falling on what appeared to be her hip while trying to handle an offline Helene Haegerstrand pass, but re-entered during the final minute.
Vermont’s other dagger on offense came off the bench with Keira Hanson, whose ten points in the fourth quarter amounted to a team-second of 13. She had two 3-pointers in the period, one of which pushed the Catamounts’ lead to 56-52 with four minutes left and quieted a Broadview crowd excited by a preceding Haegerstrand three.
Vermont head coach Alisa Kriesge praised Hanson’s all-around impact, saying “We don't skip a beat on our defense, and then she brings in some more firepower which helps the other players on our offense get a little bit more open look.”
While Cooper missed UAlbany’s final shot, she also came alive in the fourth quarter, scoring 11 for a game total of 17 on 8-19 shooting. She also led the team in boards with seven along with Abby Ray. Ray, a reserve guard, played for 31 minutes due to fellow guards Megan Huerter and Lilly Phillips being on load management due to injuries against New Hampshire on Saturday.
Cooper didn’t think the first three quarters displayed her typical aggressive self. “I feel like during the whole game, I was kind of settling for my outside shot,” she said. “Fourth quarter, it’s the last ten minutes you have so I feel like I just took a chance and drove more.”
The Great Danes are now 18-3 overall and are 7-1 in the America East for a three-way tie in first with Vermont and Maine. UAlbany has lost three-straight to the Catamounts dating back to last season where they fell in the conference championship, and can prove themselves again when they visit Vermont on the 22nd.
“There's no time to wallow in this loss, we have to learn from it, but it has to give us a fire,” Mullen said. “It has to motivate us, we have to use it to push forward.”