Inside and outside, the University at Albany women’s basketball team dominated once again.
For the third straight year, the Great Danes won the Albany Cup and local bragging rights with a convincing 65-48 victory over Siena Saturday afternoon before 317 at the Times Union Center.
The Great Danes shot a blistering 60 percent from the floor (27-for-45) and limited the Saints to just 23.7 percent shooting overall. UAlbany also dominated the glass with a 39-28 rebounding edge.
Balanced scoring in the paint and beyond the arc was the difference for the Great Danes, who improved to 5-2 overall. Three players scored in double figures, and nine Danes figured in the scoring column.
“I thought it was a good overall effort. I like the way we played as a team,” said UAlbany head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson. “We had really balanced scoring as a team. I thought we had a lot more patience on our part. We weren’t settling for threes. We tried to move the ball around. We shared the ball really well.”
Senior guard Lindsey Lowrie set the tone early with a pair threes to open the scoring, and she poured in all four of her three-pointers in the opening half.
“You had to pick your poison when you try to defend us,” said Abrahamson-Henderson. “Lindsey got going early with her threes.”
“It helps when you make a few shots early,” said Lowrie. “If I can make a few early, it opens things up.”
After Siena cut the deficit to 8-6 on a Kate Zarotney pull-up jumper, the Great Danes went on a 21-4 run to blow out to a 29-10 cushion. The key player in the run was 6-foot-8 sophomore center Megan Craig, who scored six points, grabbed a few rebounds and clogged up the middle against the Siena post players.
“It makes your players think,” said Siena head coach Ali Jaques about Craig. “You have to focus on the rim. We tried not to adjust too much, but we missed some shots inside that we don’t usually miss, and a lot of that had to do with her. She is a very intimidating player.”
The Great Danes went into the intermission with a 35-19 halftime cushion when Erin Coughlin nailed a three-pointer just before the buzzer.
UAlbany kept the momentum early in the second half with back-to-back baskets, and then Craig contributed two more layups to offset a pair of three-pointers by Siena’s Clara Sole Anglada.
Backup forward Shereesha Richards scored back-to-back layups with 5:15 remaining to help the Great Danes build a 59-32 advantage, their biggest of the game. UAlbany still held a 63-37 advantage with 2:41 to go.
But Siena trimmed its deficit down the stretch with an 11-2 run.
Abrahamson-Henderson refused to take any credit for UAlbany taking over control of the local rivalry.
“I just told our seniors that this game was for them,” she said. “It was the last time they were playing Siena.”
Senior captain Ebone Henry, who scored eight points to go along with five rebounds and five assists, disagreed.
“Coach came in here and changed our mindset about winning. She was a huge part of our winning three games in a row in this series,” Henry said. “It feels great that we won by such a wide margin, but I’m glad it’s over because of all of the hype. Now, we can focus on our other goals.”
Senior forward Julie Forster added 10 points and six rebounds for the Great Danes. Craig finished with 12 points (5-for-7 from the floor), six rebounds and three blocked shots.
Colonie product Tehresa Coles led Siena with 13 points. Leading scorer Lily Grenci, who averages 15.0 ppg, was held to just eight points on 1-for-8 shooting from the floor.
“We didn’t do everything we could do to win this game,” said Coles. “But we never think any team is 28 points better than us. We’re definitely a better shooting team than we showed.”
Although the Saints didn’t play well, first-year head coach Jaques looked at the positives.
“It was a great rivalry game, and I’m proud of our team’s effort,” she said.
“If you told me that we would force 22 turnovers and only commit 10, I would have said that we would have won the game. We missed a lot of good looks today.”
Siena (2-5), which still owns a 10-6 lead in the all-time series, hosts Maine Wednesday night. UAlbany heads to Philadelphia to take on La Salle, also on Wednesday night.
Forster 4-6 2-2 10, Keya. Williams 4-4 0-2 8, Royals 0-0 0-0 0, Henry 4-11 0-2 8, Lowrie 4-7 0-0 12, Coughlin 1-2 0-0 3, Rosario 2-2 0-1 5, Keyo. Williams 0-2 0-0 0, Richards 2-3 1-1 5, Craig 5-7 2-2 12, McVey 1-1 0-1 2. Totals: 27-45 5-11 65.
Grenci 1-8 6-6 8, Zarotney 2-7 2-3 6, Krogh 1-5 0-0 3, Stewart 3-8 1-2 7, Coles 3-9 6-6 13, Mullings 0-0 0-0 0, Mintah 0-0 0-0 0, Cummings 1-5 0-0 2, Sole Anglada 2-10 0-0, Booth 1-7 0-0 3. Totals: 14-59 15-17 48.
Halftime: UAlbany, 35-19. Three-point goals: UAlbany 6-14 (Henry 0-4, Lawrie 4-7, Coughlin 1-2, Rosario 1-1); Siena 5-21 (Krogh 1-4, Coles 1-3, Cummings 0-3, Sole Anglada 2-6, Booth 1-5). Rebounds: UAlbany 39 (Keya. Williams 7), Siena 28 (Grenci 5, Zarotney 5). Assists: UAlbany 18 (Henry 5, Rosario 5), Siena 8 (Stewart 3). Personal fouls: UAlbany 18, Siena 17. Officials: Albert Titus, Jerone Skrine, Keith Miller. Attendance: 317.