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Great Danes Showcase Determination in NCAAs

Peter Hooley, who lost is mother to cancer this season, celebrates winning the America East Championship. (Photo by Paul Miller)

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 20, 2015) -- America East Championships sent the men's and women's basketball teams back to the NCAA Tournament on Friday for the third and fourth consecutive times, respectively. Facing the daunting challenge of going up against top-25 teams in Oklahoma and Duke, the Great Danes held their own, nearly pulling off major upsets.

While the women were edged 54-52 in Durham, N.C. and the men lost 69-60 to the Sooners of the Big 12, the determination of the Great Danes earned them plaudits from around the world.

UAlbany Photos: Men's Basketball Championship

The journey to the NCAA Tournament started last weekend, when a day after the women's basketball team earned its fourth consecutive America East Championship, the men's team secured its own berth in the Tournament, when a heroic 3-point shot by Peter Hooley with less than two seconds remaining lifted the Great Danes to a 51-50 victory over Stony Brook.

The play became the major college basketball story of "Championship Weekend," as Hooley found himself conducting interviews for ESPN and writing an article for The New York Post. Hooley has been playing the season in memory of his mother, Sue, who died from colon cancer on Jan. 30.

The men's championship game was played in front of a sold-out crowd of 4,468 at SEFCU Arena on Saturday. Hooley's 3-pointer was the only outside shot the team made all day, as a resilient Stony Brook squad looked to finally break through against UAlbany.

UAlbany womens basketball america east championship 2015
UAlbany celebrates winning the 2015 America East Championship at SEFCU Arena. (Photo by Paul Miller)

Hooley, a junior from Adelaide, Australia, missed eight games during the regular season to be home with his mother.

"When you have angels watching you, you can do anything," Hooley told the Times Union, as he was overcome with emotion after the game.

UAlbany Photos: Women Celebrate America East Championship

For the women, UAlbany seniors Sarah Royals and Margarita Rosario will graduate never having fallen in the America East Tournament. The UAlbany women’s basketball team shot 62.5 percent to take down Hartford 84-75 on Friday, March 13th.

Second-seeded UAlbany (24-8) led wire-to-wire at the SEFCU Arena, holding off 5-seed Hartford (16-17) in the second half to earn the win. With UAlbany leading by 10 at the half, Hartford came to within one possession with 14:44 remaining. The Great Danes broke away with a 12-2 run and never looked back.

"A lot of credit to Hartford, they played hard, and they played a great game tonight," says UAlbany coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson. "We wanted to get the ball to Shereesha [Richards], and we did. They are great listeners, and they respond well."

UAlbany became the first team to earn four consecutive America East titles since Maine did from the 1993-94 to 1996-97 seasons. Their field goal shooting was the highest percentage by a team in an America East title game.

Social Media Highlights: 2015 #NCAADanes Storify 

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