With a laugh, Colleen Mullen remembered Sunday evening the thought that briefly went through her head two nights earlier as she watched Seton Hall — a team she scheduled the Great Danes to play Sunday less than 48 hours in advance of tipoff — dominate Wagner in a 96-53 victory, just a few hours after her team had lost by 18 points at Hofstra.
That thought: “Do I have some regrets about this?”
On Sunday, the Great Danes and Mullen got the last laugh.
With a strong effort from start to finish, a fantastic start to the fourth quarter, and big games from Helene Haegerstrand and Ellen Hahne, UAlbany scored a 71-66 win Sunday against Seton Hall of the Big East Conference at Walsh Gymnasium in South Orange, New Jersey.
“We had a lot of nerves at Hofstra. We had barely played 5 on 5. We had barely practiced,” Mullen said after her team evened its record at 1-1 ahead of Tuesday’s game at Marist. “We were forcing things and we weren’t staying in our offense.”
That wasn’t the case Sunday. Hahne produced her second double-double in as many games with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Haegerstrand scored a career-high 26 points on 10 of 14 shooting as UAlbany upset a team that opened its season with back-to-back wins by 47 and 43 points, respectively.
“She [Haegerstrand] was in the zone, and credit the team for getting her looks, finding her and making sure she got shots,” Mullen said during a phone interview.
UAlbany led 19-15 after one quarter, but trailed 32-31 at halftime and 47-44 after three quarters. Haegerstrand, a sophomore forward, scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter, though, to start a 10-0 run — and UAlbany never trailed again after Haegerstrand put them ahead. After Seton Hall pulled within 54-52 midway through the fourth quarter, a basket from Haegerstrand gave the Great Danes a two-possession advantage they didn’t relinquish until late in the final minute.
After Mya Jackson made a 3-pointer to bring Seton Hall within 67-64 with less than 20 seconds remaining in regulation, Haegerstrand made a pair of free throws. A late basket from Seton Hall’s Lauren Park-Lane again brought the home team within three points, but UAlbany’s Kyara Frames made two free throws to close the game’s scoring and seal a significant early season win for the Great Danes.
Frames scored nine of UAlbany’s final 11 points as part of a 12-point day.
“They really just continued to stick with the game plan, and they just made big shots and big plays,” Mullen said of her team winning UAlbany’s first-ever game against Seton Hall.
UAlbany was 9-21 last season, while Seton Hall finished 19-12.
With teams playing this 2020-21 college basketball season amid a pandemic that forces last-minute cancellations and postponements, teams are being creative with scheduling, and it was — to say the least — unique circumstances that brought together Sunday in New Jersey programs from the Big East and America East conferences.
UAlbany, briefly, had a game scheduled for Sunday against Saint Peter’s, but that contest fell off the schedule Friday, less than 24 hours after it was initially announced, because Saint Peter’s found out it needed to play last-minute MAAC games on Saturday and Sunday.
So, a couple hours before playing Hofstra, the UAlbany coaches started calling around to see if anyone was available to play Sunday — and sent out a tweet from the program’s social-media account asking for anyone interested in playing Sunday to contact associate head coach Megan Methven.
Within hours, UAlbany had an agreement to play Sunday at Seton Hall — and, then, the Great Danes’ coaching staff watched as Seton Hall rolled to a blowout win against Wagner.
“But we wanted to play the game because I knew our team was going to compete and that the game experience was going to be so valuable for us come conference play,” said Mullen, whose team opens league play next weekend at UMBC.
Decortes 3-7 1-1 7, Haegerstrand 10-14 2-2 26, Frames 2-6 6-6 12, Heeps 1-3 0-0 2, Hahne 8-12 1-1 17, Cooper 2-3 0-0 5, Om 0-3 0-0 0, Hanner 1-2 0-0 2, Hayes 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 27-51 10-10 71.
Allesch 4-12 4-5 13, Robinson 1-6 0-0 3, Park-Lane 6-16 2-6 15, Jackson 9-20 0-0 22, Bembry 0-4 0-0 0, Keenan 3-5 0-0 9, Minter 1-2 0-0 2, Wright 1-2 0-2 2. Totals: 25-67 6-13 66.
19 12 13 27 — 71
15 17 15 19 — 66
Three-point goals: UAlbany 7-17 (Haegerstrand 4-7, Frames 2-4, Heeps 0-2, Cooper 1-1, Om 0-3), Seton Hall 10-30 (Allesch 1-6, Robinson 1-2, Park-Lane 1-6, Jackson 4-9, Bembry 0-2, Keenan 3-5, Minter 0-0, Wright 0-0). Rebounds: UAlbany 36 (Hahne 11), Seton Hall 33 (Allesch 10). Assists: UAlbany 19 (Decortes, Hahne 5), Seton Hall 12 (Park-Lane 5). Turnovers: UAlbany 20, Seton Hall 11. Total fouls: UAlbany 14, Seton Hall 12. Technical fouls: None. Fouled out: None. Attendance: 0.