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UAlbany women repeat as America East champs, join men in NCAA tourney

Saturday, March 16, 2013
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UAlbany's Margarita Rosario, leaps into the air after her team defeated Hartford to advance at SEFCU Arena Saturday.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber
UAlbany's Margarita Rosario, leaps into the air after her team defeated Hartford to advance at SEFCU Arena Saturday.

— They're ba-ack.

Hartford made things interesting, but the UAlbany women remained poised and pulled away in the closing minutes to beat the Hawks, 61-52, in the America East Conference tournament championship game at SEFCU Arena tonight.

That sends the Great Danes (27-3) to the NCAA Tournament for the second year in a row and finished a 19-0 seaosn in the AE, the first time a team has gone undefeated in the regular season and won the conference tournament since Maine in 1996.

"Wow. That's all I can say. Wow," head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson said. "To go 19-0 in the conference, nobody talks about that, and that's it's impossible to do, I don't care where you are in the country, of you're at UConn, no matter what level."

"I still have to stop and think that, wow, we really did go undefeated," senior Ebone Henry said. "It was tough. This wasn't easy for us."

It was particularly tough for Henry against Hartford. The conference Player of the Year and UAlbany's all-time leading scorer didn't score a point until midway through the second half, and she finished with just five points on 2-for-9 from the field.

She was able to get the ball inside to 6-foot-8 sophomore Megan Craig, though, and Craig scored 16 points and was named tournament MVP. Hartford (21-11) tied it at 52-52 with less than two minutes left, but UAlbany went ahead, 56-52, on Craig's layup, and the Great Danes made five of six free throws in the final half-minute.

"Even if Ebone's not scoring, she's going to make something happen," Abrahamson-Henderson said. "And she had her partner in crime finishing shots."

UAlbany was a 14 seed last year and was beaten by Texas A&M in the first round. Abrahamson-Henderson hopes the Great Danes will get at least a 14, if not better, this time.

"We got a 14 last year, and we're way better this year," she said. "Right now, the bracketology predicts us as a 15 seed. I'll be shocked. I just hope somebody out there's fighting for us. Maybe they'll recognize that 19-0 and how many games we've won in a row. We'll see. We'll play anybody."

HARTFORD (52)

Roth 1-4 1-2 3, Smith 8-20 2-2 18, Elliott 2-4 0-0 6, Hall 0-3 2-2 2, Bepko 1-3 3-3 6, Clark 0-2 0-0 0, Bultron 3-6 0-0 7, Englert 1-5 0-2 3, Doherty 2-5 1-2 5, Moore 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 19-54 9-13 52.

UALBANY (61)

Forster 4-8 2-2 10, Keya. Williams 0-1 1-2 1, Royals 1-4 3-4 5, Henry 2-9 1-2 5, Lowrie 3-6 4-4 12, Rosario 0-0 0-0 0, Richards 5-7 2-4 12, Craig 8-17 0-1 16. Totals: 23-52 13-19 61.

Halftime: Hartford 26, UAlbany 25. Three-point goals: 5-12 Hartford (Elliott 2-3, Hall 0-1, Bepko 1-2, Bultron 1-4, Englert 1-2); UAlbany 2-7 (Henry 0-3, Lowrie 2-4). Rebounds: Hartford 31 (Doherty 6); UAlbany 38 (Richards, Craig 7). Assists: Hartford 13 (Roth, Smith, Bepko, Bultron 2); UAlbany 14 (Henry 6). Total fouls: Hartford 16; UAlbany 14. Fouled out: Forster. Attendance: 2,568.

 

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