Updated: 12/19/2013 11:59 PM
Created: 12/19/2013 11:57 PM WNYT.com
By: Rodger Wyland
With a strong first half, the UAlbany women’s basketball team hung tight with #2 Duke, but ultimately fell to the Blue Devils 80-51 at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Thursday.
UAlbany led 20-13 after the first 12:05 in the game. Duke got a run and led by eight at the half, then outscored the Great Danes 46-25 in the second period.
“I thought the first half was great. Obviously it was fun to watch [Shereesha Richards] and the way she played and the way we competed,” says UAlbany head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson. “I knew in the second half, what was going to happen just in terms of coaching with Joanne [McCallie] for four years.”
Shereesha Richards scored 24 points to lead all players on the floor on Thursday, including 20 in the first half, shooting 12-20 from the field and adding seven rebounds.
“I just found a way to score,” says Richards. “My guards passed it in to me. I’ve just got to find a way. If not, I kick it back out and rotate the ball around. Just hopefully find a gap and we attack.”
For Duke, Haley Peters led the team with 17 points off 8-12 shooting.
UAlbany’s defense held on the first four possessions as Richards hit the first three baskets for UAlbany as the Great Danes led 6-2 in the outset.
As Duke began to press, UAlbany kept making defensive stops and looking for Richards in the paint. Richards delivered, starting 7-9 from the field as UAlbany added a few Megan Craig free throws to push forward 17-11. The Great Dane defense continued to hold steadfast as a Margarita Rosario three pushed the advantage to 20-13.
The home team countered with a 15-2 run, including a pair of baskets each by Tricia Liston and Haley Peters, to take a 28-22 lead with 3:03 left in the first. Richards countered the other way with another jumper.
Both sides traded baskets towards the end of the half as Duke led 34-26 at the break despite 20 points for Richards.
Duke came out hot out of the locker room, hitting 12 of its first 13 shots, with Chelsea Gray and Peters each hitting a trio, to push ahead 60-35 with 11:51 remaining in the second.
Sarah Royals hit her first two shots to try to spur a comeback, pulling UAlbany to 62-40 Duke. But the Blue Devils countered with an 8-0 run to go up 70-40.
UAlbany pushed hard to the end, withErin Coughlin adding a pair of late three-pointers, but the Great Danes fell 80-51 in Durham.
Royals finished with seven points, five assists and four steals. She moved into 16th all-time in assists at UAlbany with 212, passing Alison Bowe. In her return, Craig had seven points, while Tammy Phillip had seven boards and a pair of steals.
Gray and Richa Jackson each got 12 points for Duke, while Elizabeth Williams had nine points and four rebounds.
UAlbany returns home for its final game on 2013 on Sunday, hosting Colgate on Sunday, December 22nd at 2 p.m. at SEFCU Arena.