WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – The UAlbany women’s basketball team used defense, keeping Hartford to 27.7% from the field, and 32 points in the paint to grab a 58-52 road victory for the 12th win in America East play this season.
With the game tied at 7:12 remaining, UAlbany (18-11, 12-4 AE) held Hartford (16-13, 7-9 AE) without points for nearly six minutes. UAlbany went on a 6-0 run in that time and held on for the victory.
“I thought we came out sluggish in the first half, credit Hartford to how well they played on their Senior Day with heart and energy,” said UAlbany head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee. “As the second half unfolded, we came out more gritty, wore them down and capitalized when we needed to.”
Earlier in the day, UAlbany clinched the 2-seed in the America East Tournament with UMBC’s loss against New Hampshire. UAlbany will take on 7-seed Vermont on Saturday, March 4th at 6 p.m. in the America East quarterfinals in Portland, Maine.
UAlbany finished with 32 points in the paint to Hartford’s 16, notching 14 assists on 22 made field goals.
Jessica Fequiere notched her second double-double in as many games, and seventh of the year, with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Tiana-Jo Carter netted 17 points off the bench, adding four steals, while Imani Tate tallied up 12 points, nine rebounds, six assists and two steals.
For Hartford, Lindsey Abed concluded with 13 points and seven assists while Deanna Mayza got 11 points and two steals.
UAlbany found early success with runs to the hoop, using four layups, including two by Tate, plus a Bailey Hixson three in the corner to put the Great Danes up 11-4 in the opening 3:12.
With the game speed going fast, Hartford pushed for an 8-0 run with steals up top the arc to take the lead. The teams exchanges a couple of times with Bose Aiyalogbe hitting three on the wing at the first quarter buzzer to give UAlbany a 16-14 lead after one.
After Mayza hit a three to begin the second quarter, UAlbany’s defense held off a barrage of Hartford shots, keeping the home team off the scoreboard for a span of over five minutes. On the other end, a lay up in the paint for Tate, another Hixson corner three and a steal and score for Fequiere completed a 7-0 run and sent UAlbany ahead 23-17 midway through the 2nd.
Heather Forster notched a lay up with 3:14 left in the 2nd to push UAlbany back up by three. Including another Mayza three, Hartford finished the half on a 8-2 spurt to lead 30-27 at the break.
UAlbany returned to its play in the paint to take back the lead; down five, a 6-0 run by Carter, Fequiere and Carter twice again all underneath the basket pushed the Great Danes ahead 37-34 with 6:22 to go in the 3rd.
UAlbany continued to hold off most of Hartford’s three-point attempts, leading most of the rest of the quarter until a Mayza drive, foul and free throws put Hartford ahead. Fequiere quickly responded with a three off the wing, giving UAlbany a 43-41 lead after three.
The back and forth continued into the 4th quarter, as UAlbany built the lead to back to four. Hartford tied it back up on free throws to make it 47-47 with 7:12 left.
The UAlbany defense again held in the coming time, with the man-to-man not allowing points for the next five-and-a-half minutes. Carter immediately gave back the lead to UAlbany with a lay up as Tate followed later with a fast break lay up from a defensive board by Khepera Stokes, then a couple of free throws to give the Great Danes a 53-47 advantage with 2:48 remaining.
After an exchange of free throws, Aiyalogbe drew a charge with 53 seconds remaining. Fequiere hit two more free throws to extend the lead to seven. Mayza hit another three, but the UAlbany defense held the rest of the way, with two late free throws setting the final score at 58-52 Great Danes.