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UAlbany Women’s Basketball Defeats Hartford, Advances To NCAA Tournament

America East Women's Basketball Final
Twitter, @briancady

On a weekend where jubilation exists throughout the entire city of Albany, there is now a sports-related reason to celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day weekend – the UAlbany Great Danes have both basketball teams advancing to their respective NCAA Tournaments. Despite their struggles with turnovers during various points of the game, the UAlbany women’s basketball team overcame adversity with a 61-52 victory over Hartford at SEFCU Arena and now await to find out this Monday night where and when their next game will be.

UAlbany started off strong in the first half, giving Hartford all kinds of fits with their full-court pressure and causing senseless turnovers by the Hawks. The Great Danes would see their lead get to as big as eight points in the first half, but Hartford would close with a 10-1 run and take a 26-25 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The second half was a slow start for UAlbany, as senior forward Julie Forster picked up two fouls in the first few minutes and had to sit on the bench for a period of time with 3 total for the game. Forster would later re-enter the game, only to foul with just under 7 minutes to play.

However, the Conference Player of the Year would finally make her presence felt, as Ebone Henry scored her first bucket with about 9:20 left and finish with just five points. Her leadership was profound throughout the tournament, despite her struggles throughout both games.

UAlbany would go on a 14-4 run about midway through the second half, but Hartford would not go down without a fight, tying the game with just 1:39 to go. This game seemed to be headed for overtime, but Sarah Royals and the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player Megan Craig would score and spark a 9-0 run to close out the victory for UAlbany.

It was like something out of a fairy tale – one school has a pair of basketball teams that enter the tournament with different sets of expectations. For the UAlbany men, the hopes were tempered and relatively reasonable. But for the UAlbany women, who went undefeated in America East play in the regular season, it was assumed this tournament was theirs to lose.

In the end, both teams have emerged from their respective brackets as champions of the America East, and now the season starts all over again. All of the blood, the sweat and the tears has led teams coached by Will Brown and Katie Abrahamson-Henderson to their ultimate achievement – births in the NCAA Tournament. March Madness has certainly kicked into high gear – I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription… is more Great Danes basketball.

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