Sunday, March 10, 2013

University of Albany Women's Basketball Advances to Second Straight America East Championship Game

ALBANY, N.Y. – Lindsey Lowrie scored a game-high 18 points, while Julie Forster recorded her 30th career double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds, leading top-seeded UAlbany to a 71-57 win over New Hampshire in the second America East Conference Women’s Basketball Semifinal on Sunday afternoon at SEFCU Arena. The Great Danes, who improve to 26-3 on the season, advance to their second straight league championship game, and will face second-seeded Hartford on Saturday, March 16, at 7 p.m. at SEFCU Arena.

New Hampshire scored first to start the game, getting a bucket from Cari Reed, but the Great Danes scored seven straight points, including four from Lowrie, giving the Great Danes a 7-4 advantage at the first media timeout of the half, with 15:19 to play. UAlbany got a steal from Ebone Henry, which turned into two more points from Lowrie with just over 12 minutes to play in the first half, pushing the Great Dane advantage to 11-6.

New Hampshire got a 3-pointer from Reed and a bucket in the paint from Morgan Frame to pull within 14-13 with 9:45 to play in the first, prompting UAlbany to take a timeout. Forster responded with a jumper, but New Hampshire got back-to-back buckets to take a 17-16 lead with 8:30 to play. The Great Danes regained a one-point advantage with two free throws by Sarah Royals, but Kaylee Fitzpatrick responded with a basket to give the Wildcats back the lead, 19-18, just before the under-eight minute media timeout at 7:41.

Fitzpatrick’s bucket kicked off a 5-2 run for the Wildcats, who held a 24-20 lead over the top-ranked Great Danes with 3:51 to play in the first half. Lowrie nailed a long three from the left side of the arc after the media timeout to pull UAlbany back to within one. Forster then recorded a steal and drew a hard foul under the basket, hitting one-of-two free throws to tie the game at 24-24 with 2:40 to play. Another defensive stop and basket by Megan Craig gave the Great Danes their first lead since the 8:15 mark. Reed ended the 10-0 UAlbany run with 35 seconds to play, but the Great Danes came up with another defensive stop to hold a 32-26 lead at the halftime break.

New Hampshire scored the first points of the second half, but Henry sank two free throws to maintain UAlbany’s six-point lead. The Great Danes used strong shooting from the charity stripe to continue to hold onto their lead, and led the Wildcats, 38-31 at the first media timeout of the half at 15:12. With a long 3-pointer from Lowrie at 14:25, UAlbany opened up its largest lead of the game, 41-31, and extended that by two after a turnover on the defensive end and a basket by Shereesha Richards on the ensuing possession.

The teams exchanged points over the next four minutes, with UAlbany maintaining its 12-point lead, 51-39, on two free throws by Henry at 9:34. However, some miscues by the Great Danes allowed New Hampshire to cut into the deficit, pulling back to within eight, 52-44, with 6:30 to play. A layup by Kaylee Kilpatrick and a 3-pointer from Kelsey Hogan extended the Wildcat run to 10-0, and pulled New Hampshire to within 52-49 with 5:35 to play, prompting a timeout from the Great Danes. Henry, who had all of her points from the free throw line in the game, finally connected on a layup at 5:02 to get the Great Danes back into the scoring column.

The Great Danes extended their lead back to ten, 65-55, with under a minute to go, as Henry lobbed an outlet pass to Richards, who was fouled by Frame on the made basket. The foul was ruled flagrant, and Richards made one-of-two from the line. Lowrie then hit four free throws to close out the scoring and set the final score.

"We held in the first half, and we stayed focused," said UAlbany head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, who has now guided the Great Danes to their second straight America East Championship appearance. "We just wanted to stick together. It's about sticking together, and that's what we did today."

UAlbany also got double-figure scoring totals from Henry with 13, and Richards with 11. New Hampshire outshot the Great Danes, connecting on 44.0 percent (22-50) of their shots. However, UAlbany scored 20 points off turnovers, as the Wildcats gave up the ball 20 times.

"I just wanted to win, really bad," said Lowrie, who earned her first all-conference recognition this season as a third team selection. "I didn't want this to be my last game. And that's what went through my head the entire game."

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