Tate and the Danes Bend but Don’t Break
ALBANY N.Y. — The University at Albany women’s basketball team held off a late comeback from conference rival Hartford on Saturday afternoon, defeating the Hawks 82-71 Saturday afternoon at SEFCU Arena.
The Great Danes dominated the first three quarters–at one point growing their lead to as high as 31 points. But Hartford proceeded to start the fourth quarter with a 26-5 run, cutting the lead all the way to 6 with 2:06 left in the game. The Danes quickly regained their composure and raised the lead to 11 with just over a minute left, ultimately sealing back-to-back wins for the Danes after their win over Vermont earlier in the week. The Danes are now 11-10 on the season, improving their record to 6-3 in conference play.
“I thought the first three quarters was as good of any three quarters that we have put together all year,” Rookie head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said of the early dominance. “The fourth quarter was a bit of a different story, both with us maybe trying to hang on to the lead, and us fouling a lot more and reverted a bit.”
Bernabei-Mcnamee also joked about her team’s performance, saying “This team definitely knows how to keep it interesting. I think that’s a crowd pleaser right there.”
The team was led by senior guard Imani Tate, who filled the stat sheet with 23 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 4 steals and one block. Tate appeared to sustain an injury to her ankle toward the end of the first quarter, which forced her to miss the entire second quarter. Tate emerged from the locker room ready to roll in the second half, later saying adrenaline allowed her to fight through the pain. She took over the game in the third quarter, scoring 14 of her team’s 29 points. Tate created the two highlights of the game with a dazzling behind-the-back assist to Khepera Stokes on a fast-break, as well as an emphatic block on Hartford’s Darby Lee with :44 left in the third.
One of the biggest contributors to the UAlbany win was the Danes’ dominance on the glass. Overall, the Danes outrebounded Hartford 41-29. UAlbany was especially dominant in the first half, outrebounding the Hawks 27-11, 12 of which were on the offensive end.
Hartford also struggled with staying out of foul trouble throughout the game. The Hawks finished with four players with 4 or more fouls, including Lee who eventually fouled out. After scoring 5 points in Hartford’s fourth quarter rally, Lee committed her 5th foul of the game with 3:32 left in the fourth quarter with her team’s deficit trimmed to 10, sending her to the bench and ending her night. Not by coincidence, Lee’s absence seemingly ended the Hawks rally and killed the momentum they had built throughout the quarter.
UAlbany and Hartford now share second place in the America East standings with Binghamton, as all three teams sit at 5-3 in conference play. The Danes will spend the next week on the road, facing UMass-Lowell and Stony Brook on their home courts.