LUCKY NUMBER 7
ALBANY N.Y. — The UAlbany women’s basketball team won their seventh consecutive Albany Cup over Siena in dramatic fashion with an 88-86 overtime victory Sunday in the first of two games between the crosstown rivals at the SEFCU Arena.
This was the first time UAlbany hosted Siena on their home floor for the Albany Cup and they didn’t disappoint the 2,082 spectators that were on hand to watch.
Imani Tate led all scorers with 24 points, 15 of which came within the last 2 minutes in regulation and overtime. With her team trailing by three and 12 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Tate was fouled during the act of shooting behind the three-point line. She then hit three consecutive free throws to tie the game at 73 a piece and sent the game into an extra frame.
“She really took it to heart and she wanted to win that game,” said Albany Head Coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee after the game. “I think every player that was out there started to do that and you saw it on the court.”
The Danes started the game with sloppy play. They committed three turnovers in the first three minutes and it became a first quarter trend as they gave the ball away eight times as Siena capitalized scoring 11 points off of turnovers. At the end of the first quarter the Saints had an eight-point lead and the Danes looked as if they were out of their element even though the game was played on their home court.
During the second period Albany settled in and played like the Danes of late scoring 20 points and holding the Saints to only nine. The Danes shot over 50% from the floor and held the Saints to shooting just over 14% in the quarter. They went into the half with a 34-31 lead and seemed to have right the ship.
They opened the third quarter with the same intensity, but towards the end of the period it looked like it was slipping away. Siena went on a 13-0 run to close out the third to give them a seven-point lead making it a 58-51 game heading into the final period of regulation.
Imani Tate spent a good portion of the fourth quarter on the bench due to foul trouble and the Saints boasted a 10-point lead. It wasn’t until about about two minutes left in the fourth when the Danes, trailing 62-70 mounted their comeback.
“We had to keep our heads on and know that we had to go out and fight,” said Tate. “Get a stop score. Get a stop score.”
That’s exactly what they did. Albany came back and kept its composure all the way to the final buzzer, which made this game an instant classic.
With 14 seconds second left Tate hit a three pointer bringing her team
within one to make it a 70-71 game. Since the shot clock was turned off, UAlbany was forced to foul Siena on their next possession. Senior guard Denisha Petty-Evens hit both of her free throws for Siena and made it a three-point game with 12 seconds left. From there the rest is history and with ice in her veins Tate got fouled and knocked down all three of her free throws to send the game into overtime.
When asked about the pressure she was facing at the line Tate responded with a high pitched sigh. If she missed one of those three free throws, then the Albany Cup would have been taken back to Loudonville.
“You know it’s a lot of pressure, but I live for moments like that,” said Tate.
In overtime the game went back and forth and had the feel of a heavyweight boxing match. Each team traded blows, but the fact the Danes outrebounded the Saints 5-2 ended up being the deciding factor. They had a late scare, but were able to squeak out two-point win.
For the seventh straight year the Albany Cup will stay on Washington Avenue and will not be relinquished to Siena. Junior forward Jessica Fequiere, who recorded a double double (19 points 11 rebounds) in the game, was a major contributor in the Danes’ victory. She and her teammates were fired up after the win.
“We’ve had the cup for the last six years and we don’t want to let that go,” said Fequiere.