UAlbany, Maine set for women’s basketball showdown

UAlbany’s Ellen Hahne during a women’s basketball exhibition against Saint Rose at College of Saint Rose in Albany on Nov. 7, 2022.

UAlbany’s Ellen Hahne during a women’s basketball exhibition against Saint Rose at College of Saint Rose in Albany on Nov. 7, 2022.

ALBANY — What is true in geography is apparently true in women’s basketball. To get to Maine, you have to go through New Hampshire.

That was more difficult than UAlbany expected Wednesday, trailing 47-45 after three quarters to a team it beat by 25 points earlier this season. The Great Danes, however, put their collective foot to the gas pedal in the fourth quarter to win 65-52, keeping them undefeated in the America East heading into their showdown game at Maine Saturday.

A rematch of last year’s America East championship, which UAlbany won on Maine’s home court, it is the game that both teams have been looking forward to, according to UAlbany captain Grace Heeps.

“We’ve definitely been taking it one game at a time, but also we’re definitely excited to see Maine because we know they’re excited to see us,” Heeps said. “Now that it’s here, we really have to dial in and focus in on what we can control and what our overall game plan is.”

For the most obvious starter, that game plan will be to stop its trend of slacking off defensively in first quarters. Against New Hampshire, the Great Danes (8-0 America East, 14-8 overall) allowed 23 points. They allowed 24 to Binghamton in the previous game. On paper, Maine (6-1, 10-9) appears too good to let UAlbany overcome that and rally.

“It’s definitely not OK that it’s happening,” Heeps said, “but I think this definitely shows how talented we are as a team that we are able to come back [from] being down most of [Wednesday’s] game. However, now, taking that forward, we definitely can’t be like that against Maine.”

Helene Haegerstrand leads UAlbany in scoring with 15.1 points per game. Kayla Cooper adds 13.1 points and a team-high 7.5 rebounds per game. Ellen Hahne contributes 12.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, while Morgan Haney averages 8.5 points and 2.4 assists.

While UAlbany has finally had its full complement of players over the last handful of games, and different players have stepped up at different times, neither coach Colleen Mullen nor the players think they’ve played a complete game yet.

“We have a lot of pieces, but we haven’t played for 40 minutes yet,” Heeps said. “But I think we now know how hungry every team is for us, and every game is going to be their best game. Especially going up to Maine, where we ended their season at the championship game last season.”

Not much separates the teams statistically. Both teams average 59.1 points per game. UAlbany allows 56.2 – 49.9 in-conference – while Maine allows 61.2. The Black Bears lead conference-only games with 14 assists per game.

Six-foot sophomore forward Adrianna Smith leads Maine with 15.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. Anne Simon, last year’s America East Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, averages 10.7 points, while Caroline Bornemann contributes 9.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

“Maine is a well-balanced and well-coached team,” Mullen said. “They are disciplined offensively. They have a strong inside presence and great shooters that stretch the floor. We need to play lock-down team defense with strong communication for four quarters.”

Contact Will Springstead at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @WLSpringstead.

Categories: College Sports, Sports, UAlbany

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