Created: 02/11/2014 10:11 PM WNYT.com
By: UAlbany Athletics & WNYT Sports
BALTIMORE – Megan Craig scored 23 points on her birthday, leading UAlbany to leave Baltimore with a 56-46 victory over UMBC to go to 12-0 in America East play.
“UMBC packed it in on us, and our guards were not able to score early,” said UAlbany head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson. “The guards got the ball to the baseline in the second half, and Megan [Craig] and Shereesha [Richards] converted their shots.”
With the victory, UAlbany (22-3, 12-0 AE) has won a Division I-best 35 consecutive conference games, just two shy of the America East record of 37-straight by Maine in the 1990s.
Craig shot 10-16 from the field, adding 10 rebounds for her fourth double-double in five games.
“It was not our best game tonight, but we came out firing in the second half,” said Craig. “I had to remain calm and concentrate to do my job and get those layups."
Shereesha Richards was 8-10 on field goals, scoring 18 points and 10 rebounds for her 13th double-double of the season. With six assists on the night, Sarah Royals moved into eighth all-time at UAlbany in assists with 280.
“We know to expect physicality in the paint, and we just had to keep attacking all night,” said Richards.
For UMBC (2-22, 1-12 AE), Sara Tarbert shot 10-11 from the field for 23 points in the game.
The teams started back and forth early, with a game-starting two baskets by UAlbany being countered by a pair of UMBC jumpers. Helped by a Tarbert three, UMBC led early 9-8 through the first six-and-a-half minutes.
The Great Danes countered with a 9-0 run, fueled by seven points from Richards, to force a UMBC timeout as UAlbany led 17-9 with 10 minutes in the 1st.
Tarbert hit an elbow three, with Bridget O’Donnell adding a long jumper, to pull within two at 17-14. Erin Coughlin buried a three from the corner off the inbounds pass to stop UMBC’s run. Each side exchanged baskets, as Richards hit a layup in the final minute, followed by another Tarbert elbow three, to make the score 27-23 UAlbany at halftime.
UMBC started strongly in the second half. At 29-27 UAlbany, Emily Russo drew contact on a made layup, hitting the free throw to give the home team the lead 30-29. The other way, Tammy Phillip hit a putback jumper to put UAlbany back in the lead as the two sides exchanged baskets.
At 35-34, started by a Richards jumper, Craig knocked down three consecutive layups to finish an 8-0 run, sending UAlbany up 43-34 with 11:10 remaining.
UAlbany kept finding Craig in the paint as the Great Danes kept a steady lead through the rest of the game. Leading 52-44 with 5:19 left, UAlbany held UMBC without points for over four minutes with its zone defense. The Great Danes took the 56-46 victory.
UAlbany will go to the opposite end of the America East on Sunday, taking on Maine in Orono on February 16th at 2 p.m