Women Take on Defending National Champion Texas A&M Saturday
America East Champions Draw Aggies at College Station, Texas
The Great Danes celebrate Saturday night at the SEFCU Arena, moments after beating UMBC for the championship of the America East and a trip to the NCAAs. (Photo above Tim Roske/AP, below John Carl D'Annibale/Times Union)
ALBANY, N.Y. (March 12, 2012) — The UAlbany Women's Basketball team, fresh off its first-ever America East Championship and Division I trip to the NCAA tournament, knew it would face a tall order in its opening round game. It definitely got one.
The Great Danes will take on defending national champion Texas A&M on the Aggies' home court in College Station, Texas, Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Texas A&M (22-10), seeded 3rd this year in the Raleigh Regional, won last year's championship by defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 76–70 in the final, held in Indianapolis, Ind. The Danes, 23-9 on the year, are seeded 14th.
Led by 23 points each from Cassandra Callaway and Ebone Henry, UAlbany earned the right to compete in its first-ever Division I NCAA Tournament on Saturday night, via a 69-61 win over UMBC at the SEFCU Arena.
The Great Danes, who also got a big boost from Julie Forster's 13 rebounds, will hear on Monday night where they will be seeded, who they will playing and where it will be in the tournament. ESPN's "NCAA Women's Selection Show" begins at 7 p.m.
Henry was named the Most Valuable Player of the America East Tournament, joining teammates Forster and Callaway on the All-Tournament team.
Ebone Henry, who led the Great Danes with 23 points, passes the ball over UMBC's Erin Brown (30) and Michelle Kurowski.
UAlbany, ranked number two in the America East tourney, led nearly the entire contest over fifth-seeded UMBC, who had topped number 1 seed Boston University earlier in the week to reach the finals. The Danes never trailed after taking a 24-22 lead with 3:49 left in the first half and led 34-27 at intermission, but had to fight off several UMBC charges in the second half.
A Kristen Coles jumper with 7:53 left tied the contest for UMBC at 48-48, but Megan Craig tossed in a layup on an assist from Callaway 24 at 7:29, and UAlbany held onto the lead the rest of the way, thrilling the crowd of 2,408 in attendance. The Danes ran their record to 23-9 this season under Coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson.
"Everyone was just so determined," Abrahamson-Henderson said immediately after the game to reporters, amid a court full of screaming players and fans. "I think, right now, they are all still in shock."