Three dribbles, spin the ball once, take a deep breath and shoot. That’s Lindsey Lowrie’s free-throw routine, and quite an effective one, at that.
The 5-foot-6 senior guard from Bay Village, Ohio, is one of the key players for the 14th-seeded University at Albany women’s basketball team that faces third-seeded North Carolina Sunday at 2:30 in the NCAA women’s tournament at the University of Delaware’s Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Del.
Lowrie is not only the team’s top three-point shooter, but she is also the player head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson wants with the ball when the other team is trying to foul in the late stages of a game.
“I want the ball at end of the game, because I know I will make my free throws,” said Lowrie. “Basically, I just tell myself to relax, and I do. I don’t think about the fact that if I miss I might cost my team the game. If I thought about that, I probably would get nervous. As it is, I don’t think about that much. Keeping the same routine every time I shoot helps.”
Lowrie, one of four double-digit scorers on the team at 10 points per game, is almost as deadly at the line as she is from beyond the arc. She has converted 82.4 percent of her foul shots this season. From three-point range, she led the America East Conference and was among the national leaders with 42.7 percent.
Lowrie rarely gets her shot blocked because of an extremely quick release.
“I’ve worked on my release for a long time,” she said. “I basically have the green light to shoot three-pointers, as long as I take smart shots,” Lowrie said. “Coach Abe [Abrahamson-Henderson] doesn’t want me to take bad shots, but she doesn’t care how many threes I take if they are good ones. If you take stupid shots, you are coming out of the game.”
Lowrie has been getting more and more playing time as the Great Danes get deeper into postseason play. She basically played the entire game in both the semifinal and championship games of the America East tournament, and scored 18 points in the semifinal.
“To tell you the truth, I was surprised by how many minutes I played in the last couple of games, but I was OK with it,” she said. “I didn’t want to come out, but we have such a deep team, and we have so many weapons. It’s nice to have such a well-rounded team, because we literally can play all 12 players.”
Although Lowrie is a senior, this is only her second year on the team. She played two years at Mercer, and made 34 treys as a sophomore. She sat out the 2010-11 season because of NCAA transfer rules.
Last year, Lowrie played a large role in the Great Danes’ first NCAA tournament appearance at the Division I level. She started 24 of 33 games, averaged 7.2 ppg, and led the team with 55 three-pointers. She also produced 50 assists and made 29 steals while helping out as the backup point guard.
“Lindsey is not just a great shooter. She is one of our smartest defenders,” said Abrahamson-Henderson. “She takes a lot of the pressure off Ebone [Henry] because she’s like another brain out there, telling everyone where to go. She really wants the ball in her hands at crucial times, and so do I. The other day against Hartford, when they called that technical foul, I was telling Lindsey to get to the line so she could take the free throws, and she was already there.
“The other thing that helps us out is that Lindsey was our point guard last year when the starter got injured, so she is another strong ball-handler who makes good decisions. She knows how to hit the open player. And with her three-point shot, if they leave her open to concentrate on Ebone, Julie Forster, Shereesha Richards or Megan Craig, she will make them pay.”
Lowrie relishes the fact that she has played a significant role on perhaps the best UAlbany women’s team in program history.
“It feels great to be a part of this team and to go back to the NCAA tournament again,” she said. “I know my role, and I just try to help out as much as I can.”