Saturday, January 5, 2008

UAlbany Women's Basketball Begins America East Conference Play with 62-52 Win at New Hampshire

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information

Durham, N.H. – Kristin Higy scored 11 of her 16 points in the final period as UAlbany rallied for a 62-52 victory over New Hampshire, as both teams began America East Conference play on Saturday, Jan. 5. The Great Danes won for the first time in seven trips to Lundholm Gymnasium.

New Hampshire (3-9, AE 0-1) led 45-40 with 8:20 remaining after Denise Beliveau stole an errant pass and hit a layup. Beliveau, a 5-foot-11 freshman, was the lone Wildcat in double figures with 10 points. But the Great Danes responded with eight unanswered to take the lead for good. Freshman guard Janea Aiken tallied all six of her points in that run, including a bank shot and a basket in transition. Sherri Mikus sank a pair of foul shots for a 48-45 advantage.

After UNH’s Ashley Cerniglia connected on a baseline jumper, UAlbany (3-11, AE 1-0) ran off nine consecutive points to take control. Sophomore guard Britney McGee, who had 11 of her 15 points in the opening half to reach twin figures for the sixth straight game, converted a fastbreak layup to begin the decisive run. Higy, a 6-foot-1 senior who accounted for eight rebounds, four steals and two blocks, followed with a three-point field goal and two free throws. McGee’s turnaround in the low post completed the sequence and handed her club a 57-47 margin with 2:32 left.

"This is a new year and a new start for us,” explained UAlbany coach Trina Patterson, whose team won its conference opener for the second straight season by ending a 14-game road losing streak. “We feel confident, especially in our defense. I think our defense, with the full-court press and different looks will give teams problems."

In the first half, the Wildcats erased a 19-15 deficit with nine straight points, all from the three-point arc. Cerniglia, a senior, nailed back-to-back long-range jumpers to put her team ahead. Racheal Fowler, a 6’2” center who totaled eight points and seven rebounds, later scored in the lane for a 26-21 lead. UAlbany tied the contest at 26 apiece by halftime as McGee buried a three-pointer and Gia Sanders scored off an in-bounds pass.

Sanders finished with nine points and nine rebounds, while Mikus scored nine off the bench. The Great Danes, who ended a nine-game skid in their previous outing on Dec. 28, held UNH to 29.5-percent shooting and forced 27 turnovers with its sticky pressure defense. The Wildcats, who led the conference in three-point shooting entering the contest, made 6-of-18 from the arc, including 0-of-7 in the second half.

"It’s good to go into conference play and get a win,” said Higy, who made 5-of-9 from the field to score in double figures for the ninth time this season. “We have a long break before our next game (Jan.13), so we're just going to keep working hard and improving."

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