Bragging rights, baked goods on the line when UAlbany women’s basketball visits Stony Brook

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ALBANY — There’s a lot at stake on Saturday, especially when it comes to regional specialties.

When the University of Albany beats rival Stony Brook in any sport, the athletic department rushes for cider donuts. Downstate, a Stony Brook win over UAlbany means bagels.

Women’s basketball teams will battle it out for bragging rights and baked goods at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Island Federal Arena.

UAlbany (11-5, 4-1 America East) is coming off a 69-40 win over UMBC on Wednesday morning, less than two days after a heartbreaking 52-49 loss to then-winless Hartford.

Coming out hot against the Retrievers (UAlbany outscored them 25-10 in the first quarter) reminded the Great Danes of their strengths.

“I think with UMBC showing us what we can really do, showing us that we’re still a really good team, we can still work together, it’s really helped build our confidence a lot,” Kayla Cooper said.

“It was a major reset,” coach Colleen Mullen said. “Being able to be upstairs in our house, sleep in our own beds, hit the restart button and say OK, that’s kind of what we did when we chased that run past Vanderbilt.

“To face an opponent like Stony Brook, I think it’s the perfect time.”


Eleven Great Danes saw the field against UMBC, giving the players some well-deserved rest after a three-game road streak in six days. Mullen said fatigue played a part in Hartford’s loss.

Cooper has been a workhorse for UAlbany, starting in place of Ellen Hahne, who has missed recent games. Cooper scored in double figures in every game she started and grabbed 15 rebounds against the previously undefeated NJIT.

But Cooper isn’t worried about keeping his starting spot when Hahne returns.

“I just think I’ll always be ready whether I start for her or not,” she said.

This selflessness is the team’s greatest strength, according to Mullen.

“When you have that confidence of wanting to set up your teammates as much as you want to set up yourselves, you just have a really dangerous team,” she said.

The Great Danes average nearly 14 assists per game, second in the America East. They had 16 against UMBC, led by Morgan Haney with five.

  • When: 2 p.m. Saturday
  • Where: Federal Island Arena, Stony Brook
  • Television: ESPN3


Stony Brook (14-2, 5-1) sits atop the America East, half a game ahead of UAlbany, a fact Mullen said the team knows but “no one talks about.” The Seawolves’ only conference loss was a 54-49 result at the NJIT. Like the Great Danes, they are unbeaten at home.

Anastasia Warren and India Pagan lead Stony Brook’s offense with 12.8 and 12.6 points per game, respectively. Gigi Gonzalez, Earlette Scott and Leighah-Amori Wool also have double-digit averages.

Stony Brook is “just more balanced” in his first year under coach Ashley Langford, Mullen said.

“I think their style is more of an uptempo style,” she added. “It’s much more of an open type of fluid attack, where you have to lock in and defend.”

Freshman Freja Werth said the Albany defense will be key against a Stony Brook team that is averaging a conference-leading 69.1 points per game. The Great Danes are allowing an average of 48.2 points, also a conference best.

“I would definitely say our defense is the most important thing for our team. When we play good defense, we win games,” Werth said.

Senior Lucia Decortes, who returned from a three-game absence against UMBC, is a key part of that. She leads the team in blocks with 22, well ahead of Helene Haegerstrand’s nine, and has the best average (1.7) in the conference. Anna Olson of Vermont has 25 in total.

But ultimately, Werth said, the Great Danes have to play “team defense.”

And if Decortes, or any other Great Dane, gets tired, “we have people who can step in, who are ready to go no matter what,” Cooper said.

Remarks: Freshman Lilly Phillips is day-to-day with an ankle injury, and Mullen said she isn’t sure if she’s available for Stony Brook. On Hahne, Mullen said, “we still have no direction for his illness at this time.”

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