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Game 25 / Conference 11 Feb 4 (Sat) 12 P.M. Burlington, VT Patrick Gymnasium

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From today's Times - Union



Stops, starts are key for Danes moving forward

Defense has been saving team, which has been sluggish at beginning


By Abigail Rubel

Jim Franco / Times Union

UAlbany’s Ellen Hahne said sometimes you feel like you’re playing good defense during a game, but the film tells a different story.

TROY — For the University at Albany women’s basketball team, it’s all about stops and starts.

The Great Danes (15-9, 9-1 America East) overcame another slow start in a 57-49 win over UMass Lowell (2-18, 1-9) on Wednesday night, getting key stops on defense in a 17-7 third quarter.

“I think we did way better (defensively), but still we have more to give, and that’s going to come on Saturday,” said senior forward Helene Haegerstrand, who led UAlbany with 20 points along with five rebounds.

The Great Danes, still atop the America East, visit third-place Vermont on Saturday. The Catamounts are 7-2 in the league and have won their past seven games.

UAlbany saw its eight-game winning streak end at Maine last weekend. Determined to get back in the win column against the last-place River Hawks, the Great Danes forced 18 turnovers, two shy of their season high. Three — all steals by redshirt junior guard Morgan Haney — came during a 9-0 run in the third that gave them their first lead of the game. UAlbany also won on the boards 41-34, led by fifth-year guard Ellen Hahne’s 12 rebounds.

“We have to make sure that our defense is dictating everything, and I think we felt better about how we boxed out in this game. Didn’t feel good about how we did that against Maine,” UAlbany coach Colleen Mullen said. “I think we learned and got better in this game.”

“We were talking a lot about being in a stance, and I think the Maine game, when you’re in it, you think you’re in a stance. You’re guarding the person, they’re in front of you and you think you’re doing a good job sometimes, but when you go back and watch film, you see that you’re not really an active defender,” Hahne said.

UAlbany is allowing an average of 55.6 points per game, second to Vermont (54.1 ppg) in the America East.

Despite the improvement from Maine, UMass Lowell shot 53.8 percent from the field in the first quarter, getting out to a 15-9 lead at the end of the period. The River Hawks also shot 35.7 percent from 3-point range over the game, well above their average of 27.8 percent.

“I don’t want anybody to get any open shots. So I get frustrated that Jaini Edmonds, No. 21, went 4-for-5 from the 3-point line, and they were uncontested shots, most of them,” Mullen said.

Edmonds led UMass Lowell with 18 points and was 6-for-14 from the field.

Jim Franco / Times Union

UAlbany junior Morgan Haney had three steals to help fuel a 9-0 run against UMass Lowell that helped pull out a victory.

Difficulty scoring also contributed to UAlbany’s first-quarter deficit, the team’s fourth in a row. The Great Danes were 3-for-16 in the first and didn’t get their first field goal until a 3 from Hahne four minutes in.

Some of the first-quarter struggles are a result of having all four leading scorers in the starting lineup, according to Mullen. Last season, she had either guard Kayla Cooper or Hahne coming off the bench along with Haney, who was named the America East Sixth Player of the Year.

“We had explosive scoring coming off the bench, and now all those people are on the court, and there’s not a shot for every person, because we have all shooters,” Mullen said.

“We do have a lot of threats and sometimes that can be difficult too, because we have so many different looks we could have and so many different players we could go into, so sometimes we just have to find the hot hand and kind of go with that,” Hahne said.

And though the starters have all been together for at least three years, they’re still building their chemistry together.

“Everyone’s developing. Everyone’s doing different things,” Haegerstrand said. “It’s something we all need to just adjust to, which is all good things.”

▶› Abigail.Rubel@- timesunion.com A @abigail_rubel

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Haney embraces starting position

Last season’s Sixth Player of the Year says duties still unchanged


By Abigail Rubel

Jim Franco / Times Union

Sophomore Lilly Phillips will miss her second straight game with a leg injury.

TROY — Morgan Haney is unlikely to repeat as the America East Sixth Player of the Year.

Not because the redshirt junior guard hasn’t been playing well — she’s averaging 7.8 points and 3.4 rebounds for the University at Albany women’s basketball team — but because she’s started 12 of the 13 games she’s played.

Haney missed the first 11 games of the season with a meniscus tear.

Starting or coming off the bench, she approaches the game the same way.

“Just trying to feed my teammates, trying to play the best defense I can. I’ve just kind of been a little bit up-and-down throughout the season, just with injuries and coming back and kind of just getting back into the flow of things, but the role is pretty much the same,” Haney said.

“Defensively, she’s been a huge key for us,” UAlbany coach Colleen Mullen said.

Last season, Haney missed the summer session and most of fall workouts while recovering from a torn ACL, so Mullen started then-freshman guard Lilly Phillips.

“(Phillips) was doing well, and then we were winning and being successful, and then Morgan was giving us a completely different look coming off the bench,” Mullen said.

Haney averaged 6.4 points and three rebounds in 2021-22, leading the team with 43 steals. She and Phillips had a team-high 71 assists apiece.

Coming off the bench this season, Phillips is averaging 4.9 points and 2.1 boards with 34 assists (third on the team) and 13 steals. She and Haney play fairly equal minutes — 24.8 per game for Haney, 22.7 per game for Phillips.

“Both years, I’m just kind of called to do whatever they need me to do. Even though my role has been a little different, I think just playing hard and running the offense and coming in as a spark this year, I don’t think a lot has changed,” Phillips said. She averaged 4.1 points and 1.8 rebounds last season.

“I can start the game off seeing how the other team is playing, how we’re playing, and I think that helps coming into the game, whereas when you do start, you have to just go with the flow and see how everything comes,” she said.

Phillips missed UAlbany’s last outing against UMass Lowell with a lower-leg injury and was ruled out for Saturday’s game at Vermont.

“We think it’s a lower leg injury that’s bad, but we haven’t gotten confirmation,” Mullen said.

The Great Danes (15-9, 9-1 America East) play the Catamounts (15-6, 7-2) at noon Saturday. UAlbany already beat Vermont once this season, 60-46, at Hudson Valley Community College. The Catamounts also lost their next game, 58-57, at home against UMBC on Jan. 1.

“I think a little bit of it was the pressure. There’s this expectation of what our program did last year, what people think we should be able to do this year, and I felt like in some ways it was getting the best of our players,” Vermont coach Alisa Kresge said.

But they haven’t lost since and are on a seven-game winning streak.

“They’re just playing really confidently. They’ve got a nice, balanced attack,” Mullen said. “They’ve built some really nice chemistry. They’re playing very good defense right now and their offense, they make you play defense for 30 seconds.”

Senior guard Emma Utterback (14 points per game), junior forward Anna Olson (11.9 ppg) and sophomore guard Catherine Gil-wee (11.2 ppg), last season’s conference Rookie of the Year, lead the Catamounts’ attack.

Vermont is shooting 43.2 percent from the field, tops in the conference; UAlbany is second with a field-goal percentage of 42.5 despite its recent first-quarter shooting struggles.

But both teams, the two best defenses in the America East, are looking to keep it a low-scoring affair. Vermont (54.1 points allowed) is a point and a half ahead of UAlbany (55.6 points allowed).

“The focus is really on getting stops and hoping that kind of fuels our offense, and playing loose,” Haney said.

▶› Abigail.Rubel@- timesunion.com A @abigail_rubel

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