The University of New Hampshire women’s basketball team led for the majority of the second half, but Albany’s Amanda Ward drained a 3-pointer with 32 seconds remaining to take the lead and the win, 66-61, in the opening round of the America East tournament on Thursday evening at Binghamton’s Events Center. Whitney Edwards (Mt. Vernon, N.Y.) matched her season-high with 16 points in the game to lead the Wildcats in scoring and was selected as the America East Player of the Game. With the loss, the No. 9 seeded Wildcats close the season with an overall record of 9-20. The No. 8 seeded Great Danes improve to 8-22 and will face the America East regular season champions, Hartford, in the quarterfinals.
    The first have had seven lead changes, but Albany, led by Ward with 10 points, had control for much of the opening frame. The Great Danes led by seven (19-12) with 5:50 to play in the first half, before the Wildcats went on a 20-9 run to put New Hampshire ahead at halftime, 32-28.  The Wildcats took the lead (23-22) with 3:26 remaining on a 3-pointer by Chrissy Hall (Northbridge, Mass.). In the remaining three minutes of action Hall posted four additional points, bringing her total to seven at the half. The boxscore had many similarities at halftime, including both teams pulling down 20 boards, causing eight turnovers, and grabbing three steals.
    The Wildcats continued to hold the lead for much of the second half, but could not pull ahead any further than six points (38-32), with 14:40 remaining. Ward sunk two free-throws to give the Great Danes the lead (42-40) with 10:14 left in the game. Edwards hit a jumper and Ashley Cerniglia (Pittsford, N.Y.) drained a 3-pointer to put the Wildcats back on top (45-42) with 8:56 left to play. New Hampshire then pulled ahead by five points (55-50) at 5:35 on a 3-pointer by senior forward Danielle Clark (Corinna, Maine). Albany’s perfection (14-for-14) from the foul line in the second half kept the Great Danes in the game. With Albany down 58-57 and 32 seconds remaining, Ward nailed a shot from beyond the 3-point arc to give the Great Danes the two point advantage (60-58). The Great Danes then went on to hit four foul shots to give them the six point (64-58) lead. At the buzzer, junior guard Lauren Weidmyer (Staten Island, N.Y.) hit the first three of her career to make it a 64-61 final.
    Hall finished the game with a dozen points for the Wildcats. Clark, who was held to just five points in the game, led the Wildcats in rebounding with six. Edwards, who was selected earlier today as the America East Defensive Player of the Year, swiped five steals in the game, to go along with her five assists and 16 points, shooting 7 of 12 from the floor. Senior forward Ray Williams (Missisauga, Onatrio) pulled down five boards, four from the offensive end of the court, for the Wildcats. She also contributed seven points in the game.
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