UAlbany’s Patterson Coach of Year

University at Albany's Trina Patterson is named America East Coach of the Year as the Great Danes op
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America East women’s tournament bracket

To view the bracket for the America East Conference women’s basketball tournament, click here.

University at Albany head women’s basketball coach Trina Patterson, who Thursday was named the America East Conference Coach of the Year, will lead her fourth-seeded Great Danes against fifth-seeded Binghamton tonight at 8 in the quarterfinals of the America East Conference tournament at the Chase Arena in West Hartford, Conn.

The Great Danes (12-17 overall) finished 10-6 in conference play after Patterson changed her team’s style of play to an up-tempo offense, coupled with a pressing defense. UAlbany’s 10 wins in league competition was the most for the program since it joined the conference in the 2001-02 season.

“Coach Patterson is very deserving of this award,” said UAlbany athletic director Lee McElroy. “Her staff and student-athletes have faced adversity and obstacles, including a tough non-conference schedule and several close defeats. But her ded­ication and commitment as a coach helped meet these challenges and allowed the program to set a conference record for wins and gain the highest seed ever for the championship tournament.”

The Danes will be led by their two all-conference selections, senior forwards Gia Sanders and Kristin Higy.

Sanders, named to the America East Conference all-league second team, is the first UAlbany player since Danielle Hutcheson in 2003-04 to be named to the first or second all-league team. She averaged 9.0 points per game and topped the team in rebounds (6.9 pg), steals (1.92 pg) and blocked shots (1.52 pg). Sanders became the school’s all-time leader in blocked shots (150) this year and is currently seventh in career rebounds (616). Sanders was also named to the league’s all-defensive team.

Higy earned all-conference third-team honors after averaging a team-high 10.9 points per game and 5.3 rebounds. She topped the league in three-point shooting percentage (38.4 percent).

The Danes also placed freshman guard Janea Aiken to the all-rookie team. She was a key contributor off the bench before recently returning to the starting lineup and scored 17 points in Albany’s road win at Binghamton.

Joining the 6-foot Sanders, the 6-1 Higy and the 5-9 Aiken in the starting lineup are 5-6 sophomore point guard Britney McGee and 5-8 sophomore guard Charity Iromuanya. McGee averages 9.0 ppg, while Iromuanya produces 6.9 ppg.

The Danes finished strong in the regular season, winning eight of their last 11 games. They defeated Binghamton on March 5, 63-49, before losing to Boston University in their regular-season finale, 76-67, in overtime.

Binghamton, which won three of its final four games before losing its regular-season finale to the Danes, is led by seniors Laine Kurpniece and Laura Sario, who average 12.4 ppg and 10.3 ppg, respectively. Kurpniece was named to the all-league first team, while Sario, who paced the Bearcats, with 90 assists, was a third-team selection.

Other top players for the Bearcats are 5-10 sophomore guard Erica Carter (9.8 ppg), 6-2 junior forward Laura Franceski (9.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 54 blocked shots), 6-1 senior forward Brianna Thompson (5.5 ppg) and 5-8 sophomore guard Muffy Sadler (4.2 ppg).

In other games today, seventh-seeded New Hampshire (7-21) takes on second seed Vermont (22-7) at noon, sixth-seeded UMBC (9-19) meets third seed Boston University (18-11) at 2, and top seed Hartford (23-5) squares off against the winner of Thursday night’s Maine (7-22) vs. Stony Brook (7-22) game at 6.

Courtney Pilypaitis, a sophomore guard from Vermont, was named the Player of the Year, while May Kotsopolous, also a sophomore guard from Vermont, was selected the Defensive Player of the Year. New Hampshire freshman forward Denise Beliveau was the Rookie of the Year.

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