Albany, Stony Brook Advance to WBB Title Game
ALBANY, N.Y.- For the second-straight year, the top-two seeds will meet for the America East women's basketball title as No. 1 Albany and No. 2 Stony Brook earned victories in the semifinals on Sunday afternoon at Albany's SEFCU Arena.
The 2014 America East title game presented by SEFCU will be played on Monday, March 10, at 4 p.m. at University at Albany's SEFCU Arena. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU with Bob Picozzi and Steffi Sorensen on the call.
Center Megan Craig scored a game-high 23 points to lead a potent inside attack as top-seeded Albany held off fifth-seeded Hartford, 65-51 in the semifinals of the 2014 America East Women's Basketball Championship at SEFCU Arena Sunday morning.
The two-time defending champion Great Danes (27-4) will bid for three straight moving on to the Monday's title game when they will face the winner of the #2 Stony Brook/#3 New Hampshire semifinal at 4 p.m. (ESPNU).
Albany dominated the paint outscoring the Hawks 42-12 inside and its 38-27 edge in rebounds included 17 on the offensive glass leading to 20 second-chance points. The 6-foot-9 Craig went 10-for-15 from the floor while frontcourt mates Shereesha Richards scored 19 on 7-for-11 shooting, and Tammy Phillip had a game-high 10 rebounds.
Early on, Hartford's perimeter kept the game close and Amber Bepko scored eight including two three-pointers to give the Hawks a 17-15 lead with 7:55 left in the half. The Hartford outside attack set an America East semifinal record with 29 3-point attempts in the contest.
The Great Danes changed the pace and would closed out the period scoring 15 straight backed by seven points by Craig and four by Richards to lead 30-20 at the break.
Albany kept control throughout the second half but could not put away the pesky Hawks. Down early by a dozen, Hartford battled back with another three by Bepko and a bucket by Cherelle Moore to make it 40-33 with 15 to play. Nine minutes later, five points by Sarah Royals sandwiched a three-pointer by Hartford's Alyssa Englert to push the UA lead to 53-42.
Richards scored five more, including three from the line, for a 14-point lead with four to go before another Bepko trey and two free throws made it 60-51 with 2:17 left. After Craig hit from inside, blocked a shot at the other end and hit a free throw, Albany held off the Hawks the rest of the way to move to the title game for the third straight season.
In addition to the trio up front, Great Danes point guard Royals added 11 and eight assists to extend her single-season school record. Albany shot 48% from the floor and 75% from the free throw line.
In falling short of its eighth trip to the title game in its 13th semifinal appearance, Hartford ends its season at 13-18. The Hawks were led by Bepko with 21 including five three pointers. A senior in her final collegiate game, Englert added six points and five assists.
A balanced attack led by 14 points off the bench by Teasha Harris and control of the backboards lifted second-seeded Stony Brook to a 79-59 win over third-seeded New Hampshire in the semifinals of the 2014 America East Women's Basketball Championship at SEFCU Arena Sunday afternoon.
Harris paced five players in double-digits for the Seawolves who have won nine straight and 14 of the last 15 heading into tomorrow's title game when they will face two-time defending champion and top-seeded Albany at 4 p.m. (ESPNU). It is the second appearance for Stony Brook in the title game, and the first since 2002.
Chikilra Goodman had a double-double with 13 points and a game-high 11 boards as Stony Brook out-rebounded UNH 48-25 with 20 coming on the offensive glass. Forward Jessica Ogunnorin added 14 points and seven boards while Sabre Proctor scored 13 on six-for-10 from the floor.
UNH started with a 7-2 start lead in the early going before the Seawolves rallied with a 15-0 run over four minutes capped by back-to-back three-pointers by Goodman. A lay-up by Miranda Jenkins at the eight-minute mark gave SBU a 27-15 lead, its biggest in the opening stanza. The Wildcats used the long ball going making six of its first 10 to get untracked and buckets by Elizabeth Belanger and Kaylee Kilpatrick made it 36-30 at the break.
A Belanger hoop inside opened the half before another Stony Brook run, this one 10-0 over six-plus minutes aided by solid defense, gave the Seawolves control of the lead. Over the first half of the second period SBU held UNH to four-of-17 from the floor and one-of-six from three-point range.
Inside hoops by Proctor and Kori Bayne-Walker (10 points) gave Stony Brook its biggest advantage a 61-39 lead with 6:48 to go as the Seawolves cruised to their 24th victory of the season, matching their program-best set back in 1985-86.
Stony Brook (24-7) attacked the basket throughout the contest and went 18-for-21 (86%) from the line for the contest, 12-of-15 in the second half. UNH, largely due to its perimeter emphasis, did not shoot a free throw until the 4:00 was left in the contest. The Seawolves shot 44% from the floor for the game, 52% in the deciding second half.
Elizabeth Belanger had a team-high 18 for the Wildcats who finish their season at 19-12. Kristen Anderson added 11 with three three-pointers and senior Kelsey Hogan had 10 in her last college game. UNH went 40% from the field and made nine of its 21 attempts from three-point range (43%) but only 27% after halftime.