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No. 1 UConn overpowers UAlbany

No. 1 UConn overpowers UAlbany

'The final score doesn’t tell the tale of the game'
No. 1 UConn overpowers UAlbany
UAlbany guard Imani Tate (12) heads up the court against Connecticut during Saturday's NCAA women's tournament game.

STORRS, Conn. — Players on the University at Albany women’s basketball team were firing each other up in the locker room at halftime Saturday at Gampel Pavilion.

“We got this,” they told each other, according to their coach, Joanna Bernabei-McNamee. “One possession at a time.”

UAlbany had played pretty well against overall No. 1 UConn the first two quarters of their first-round NCAA Tournament game.

And still the Danes trailed 58-32.

“We weren’t happy with our defense in the first half at all,” UConn star Katie Lou Samuelson said.

No, the Great Danes didn’t have it.

The 33-0 Huskies exploded for nine straight points in the first 67 seconds of the third quarter. “The first three or four minutes of the second half, I think, ended the game for all intents and purposes,” UConn coach Gene Auriemma said.

He was being generous. The game was long over before that, as the Huskies won their 108th straight by beating the Great Danes 116-55.

“The final score doesn’t tell the tale of the game,” McNamee said. And the game wasn’t that lopsided — except in spurts where four-time reigning NCAA champion UConn showed why it has not lost since 2014.

UConn led by 19 after the first quarter, 26 after two and 39 going into the fourth quarter.

“It’s not what I thought it would be,” UAlbany senior Cassandra Edwards said. “Before the game, we were fired up and had lots of energy. The game just didn’t go our way.”

The game didn’t go UAlbany’s way, but it do go pretty much the way most expected.

UConn scored the first nine points of each half, and physically dwarfed, outran, outjumped and outshot UAlbany.

The 1 vs. 16 first-round NCAA women’s basketball tournament game played on the Huskies’ home floor was never in doubt.

If anything, the Huskies’ offense got staggeringly huskier in the fourth quarter, as they shot 13-for-15 from the field. For the game, UConn shot at 62.3 percent, and 50 percent from 3. They dominated almost every statistical category — from points in the paint to points off turnovers to bench scoring — save one: Offensive rebounds (UA had one more). That’s because UAlbany simply missed more shots on their end to fetch. 

There was not much the Danes, 21-12 and winners of the past six America East titles, could have done.

“There’s always things as a coach that you think maybe you could have played more zone in the second half, maybe we could have not tried to push temp on offense and hold the ball,” McNamee said. “Again, Connecticut is just a really good team, so at the end of the day, I am glad we had the opportunity to play and I probably wouldn’t have done much different.”

UConn had five players in double figures, led by Napheesa Collier and Kia Nurse with 24 points. Collier and Gabby Williams (20 points) both had 10 rebounds. Too much size, too many weapons, too much.

The Danes were led by Imani Tate with 19 points and 7 rebounds and Jessic Fequiere with 16 points. No one else scored more than 8 points (Tiana-Jo Carter).

“We were not intimidated,” UAlbany point guard Mackenzie Trpcic said. “They are a really good team with a really good coach, and they are going to be tough to beat.”

That all said, the Danes had their moments. They had runs of 7-1 and 7-0. They continued to play hard throughout. In the third quarter, 5-foot-8 UAlbany senior Tate, who led the Danes with 19 points, emphatically blocked a shot. (It was UAlbany’s only one of the game, compared to seven for UConn.). She was then greeted with an enthusiastic mid-air chest bump from Chyanna Canada.

The Danes were trailing by 37 at that point.

Despite the drubbing, Tate said her last game as a collegian was — yes — fun.

“Basketball is always fun,” she said. “If you are not having fun, why are you playing?”

That, for a moment or two, they had.
Hixson 1-7 0-0 3, Forster 0-2 1-2 1, Stokes 1-2 0-0 2, Tate 6-24, 7-8 19, Fequiere 6-11 1-2 16, Trpcic 2-8 0-0, Hernandez 0-0 0-0 0, Aiyalogbe 0-0 0-0 0, Aslan 0-0 0-0 0, Schechter 0-0 0-0 0, Carter 4-8 0-0 8, Edwards 1-2 0-0 2, Canada 0-1 0-0. Totals: 21-65 9-12 55
Williams 5-9 10-11 20, Collier 10-15 4-5 24, Samuelson 6-13 1-2 15, Nurse 8-10 2-2 24, Chong 3-7 0-0 6, Dangerfield 6-10 0-0 16, Bent 0-0 0-0, Lawlor 0-0 0-0 0, Irwin 1-1 0-0 3, Butler 4-4 0-0 8. Totals 43-69 17-20 116.
UAlbany    18 14 12 11 — 55
UConn    37 21 25 33 — 116
Three-point shooting: UAlbany 4-22 (Hixson 1-7, Stokes 0-1, Tate 0-4, Fequiere 3-6, Trpcic 0-4); UConn 13-26 (Collier 0-1, Samuelson 2-7, Nurse 6-7, Chong 0-3, Dangerfield 4-7, Irwin 1-1). Rebounds: UAlbany 29 (Tate 7), UConn 44 (Williams 10, Collier 10). Assists: UAlbany 11 (Hixson 3, Tate 3, Trpcic 3). UConn 34 (Samuelson 9). Turnovers: UAlbany 19 (Tate 7), UConn 10 (Nurse 3). Total fouls: UAlbany 17, UConn 14. Fouled out: None. Technicals: None. Attendance: 5,670.

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