ALBANY, N.Y. – Opening the season with a furious scoring pace, the University at Albany women’s basketball team jumped out to 13-0 lead Friday night at the Times Union Center and never looked back, overcoming cross-city rival Siena, 69-42. The victory captured the Great Danes’ fourth straight Albany Cup and bragging rights for another year.

Junior Sarah Royals matched her career-best with a game-high 21 points, and also career-marks with six rebounds and four steals, adding six assists. Classmate Margarita Rosario also had a career night, scoring 14 points. The reigning America East Rookie of the Year, Shereesha Richards opened the season with a double-double, logging 13 points and 12 rebounds, while also notching four steals.

In addition, senior Tammy Phillip matched her career-high with 10 boards, as the Great Danes outrebounded the Saints, 48-30.  Megan Craig also earned a career-high with four blocks, adding five points.

Coming off a conference championship and NCAA Tournament appearance, the Great Danes opened the season in top form with a sweltering 58.6 percent field goal percentage in the first half, as well as hitting 6-of-8 shots from behind the arc.

Royals knocked down two and Rosario hit another to give the Great Danes a 13-0 head start at the 12:53 mark. Not only was UAlbany’s offense lighting it up, but the defensive effort suffocated the Saints to a 17.2 field goal percentage (5-29) in the opening stanza. Siena did not record a field goal until the 7:52 mark, as Tehresa Coles’ layup made the score 20-5.

Picking up the intensity in the final five minutes of the first half, the Great Danes used a 17-2 run, capped by another Royals three, to take a 30-point lead, 43-13 with 1:17 remaining. Siena made the final basket of the half with 34 seconds on the clock, as Emia Willingham touched one off the glass. However, UAlbany still went into the break with a commanding 43-15 lead.

Out of the locker room, Richards scored UAlbany’s first six points with two field goals and two free throws, giving the Great Danes a 32-point lead (49-17) -- their largest advantage of the game – with 17:41 remaining.
With Brianna Logan’s layup, Siena cut the margin to 22, 53-31, with 11:19 on the clock, but that would be as close as the Saints would get. UAlbany built their lead back up to as much as 28, 66-38, led by a trio of Rosario baskets and Royals’ pair of free throws with 3:18 remaining, and the Great Danes held onto their comfortable advantage through the remainder of regulation.

In the game, UAlbany held Siena to a 26.2 field goal percentage (16-61), as well as a 4.8 percentage (1-21) from three. Leading the Saints, Meghan Donahue and Coles both reached double figures with 13 and 12 points, respectively.

Up next, UAlbany hosts Western Michigan Sunday at 2:00 p.m. at SEFCU Arena for its home opener.