The University at Albany women’s basketball team dominated the America East Conference awards banquet Thursday night the same way it beat up on the opposition all season long.
The clapping never stopped at UAlbany’s table in the Campus Center Ballroom. The Great Danes earned nearly all of the most important trophy hardware, including Coach of the Year (Katie Abrahamson-Henderson), Co-Player of the Year (Ebone Henry), Defensive Player of the Year (Henry) and Co-Rookie of the Year (Shereesha Richards).
Senior forward Julie Forster joined Henry on the first team and also made the all-defensive and all-academic teams. Sophomore Megan Craig and senior Lindsey Lowrie were named to the third team.
About the only surprises were that Henry and Richards had to share their awards with Boston University’s Chantell Alford and Maine’s Liz Wood, respectively. Otherwise, it was a complete UAlbany rout for a team that went unbeaten in conference play (16-0) and posted a school-record 25 wins during a 25-3 campaign that notched the Great Danes’ first reg-ular-season championship.
Abrahamson-Henderson earned her second consecutive Coach of the Year award after guiding a team that paced the conference in scoring offense, scoring defense, field-goal percentage, field-goal percentage defense, assists and steals.
“This award is not really the coach of the year. It’s really the team of the year,” said Abrahamson-Henderson, who has turned the Great Danes into winners in her three seasons at the helm. The Great Danes won last year’s conference tournament and earned the program’s first NCAA tournament bid on the Division I level. With two victories in this year’s tournament, the Great Danes will repeat.
“I’m humbled that the other coaches voted for me,” said Abrahamson-Henderson. “They had a lot of respect for what we did this year. This was a team award. We didn’t score any baskets. These awards are nice, but we’ll forget about them immediately and begin to think about our next game.”
Henry, a senior guard from San Diego, became the second player in conference history to earn both the Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year award in the same season. She also is the first player to win the Defensive Player of the Year award three times in her career.
Henry, the only player in the conference to finish in the top five in scoring, assists and steals, is UAlbany’s all-time leading scorer.
“Winning all of these awards says a lot about our team this year,” said Henry. “But I couldn’t have done this without my teammates. These awards won’t help us win our next game. We still have a lot left to
Henry shared the award with Alford, who won the Player of the Year award the last two seasons. Alford led the conference in scoring at 16.6 points per game and nailed 76 three-pointers. But the 23-5 Terriers are ineligible to compete in the tournament this year because they are leaving the conference to join the Patriot League next season.
Forster, the Great Danes’ all-time rebounding leader, led the conference in rebounds her first three seasons and was third this year. She also scored more than 1,000 points in her career, and posted a 3.96 GPA this season.
Richards, who came off the bench, scored 10.1 points per game and is on pace to become the first rookie since Drexel’s Katrina Martin to lead the conference in field-goal percentage (.606).
Richards shared the Rookie of the Year with Wood, who led all freshmen in scoring (10.2 ppg), rebounding (6.7 rpg) and assists (2.4 pg). Maine pulled out of the tournament because of the lingering effects from a bus accident near Boston last week.
Boston University’s Rashidat Agboola, Alford and Mo Moran joined Henry and Forster on the first team.
UAlbany plays the winner of today’s New Hampshire vs. Stony Brook game in the semifinals Sunday at 1.