The road to the America East Conference women’s tournament championship has gotten easier for the top-seeded University at Albany Great Danes.
UAlbany was supposed to meet Maine in the quarterfinals Friday night at 6 at SEFCU Arena, but Maine will not participate in the tournament, it was announced Monday night. The Great Danes will move right into Sunday’s semifinal round.
Maine officials made the decision not to compete because of lingering effects from a bus accident last week. The bus driver was injured, and a Maine player broke her hand in the accident.
“It was been a difficult time for these student-athletes following the accident,” said Robert Dana, Maine’s vice president for student affairs and dean of students. “Our focus has been and continues to be the health and well-being of these players in their athletic and academic lives. Knowing students as I do and having consulted with experts, my recommendation . . . is that the UMaine women’s basketball team end its season to spend this time continuing to recuperate. They are back in the UMaine community, and that’s what matters. Seeing them back on the road for the tournament would have been difficult, and not in their best interest.”
The game between No. 4 seed Stony Brook and No. 5 seed New Hampshire, which was originally scheduled during session two at 8 p.m. Friday, has been moved to the 6 p.m. time slot. The Great Danes wll play in the semifinals Sunday at 1.
Second-seeded Hartford takes on seventh-seeded Binghamton at noon Friday, and third seed Maryland Baltimore County meets sixth-seeded Vermont 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.
“We are very sympathetic to the traumatic event Maine women’s basketball has experienced,” said America East commissioner Amy Hutchausen. “We entrust this decision to the experts and professionals on Maine’s campus to do what is best for the student-athletes, coaches and staff. The America East still looks forward to a great tournament in Albany this weekend.”
UAlbany (16-0, 25-3) won its first regular-season championship, and became the seventh team in conference history to go unbeaten.