Sunday, November 16, 2014

University of Albany Women's Basketball Earns Hallmark Victory with 54-53 Win at Penn State, Richards Joins 1,000-Point Club - UAlbany Sports 2014

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – With Shereesha Richards earning 27 points and 14 boards and Sarah Royals hitting the game-winning free throw with 8.4 seconds left, the UAlbany women’s basketball team defeated three-time defending Big Ten regular season champion Penn State 54-53 to advance to the Preseason WNIT semifinals.

This marks the first victory for the UAlbany women’s basketball team (2-0) against a Power Five conference opponent.  It also is the first victory for an America East team over a Big Ten opponent.

“I am very proud of our team, they came in here with no fear,” said UAlbany coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson. “We are returning four starters, and [Carter] played very well.  They are workhorses and fighters, and as a coach, that is what you want.  They executed everything we asked them to do.”

With the game tied 53-53 with 8.4 seconds left, Royals drove into the paint and got fouled by Tori Waldner in the act of shooting for two free throw attempts.  Royals hit the front end to put UAlbany ahead 54-53.  Penn State (1-1), after having a transition play stopped by Tiana-Jo Carter knocking the ball out of bounds, got an inbounds pass underneath their basket with 3.7 seconds left.  Candice Agee, double teamed by UAlbany, threw up a jumper and hit the iron.  Imani Tate grabbed the rebound as the clock expired.

“I was very confident stepping onto the line,” said Royals. “It is something I have thought about before, and luckily I got one of them to go.  We had a great defense tonight; we stopped them in transition and with boxouts.”

Richards earned her first double-double of the year, earning half the team’s points with 27, adding 14 rebounds and three steals.  16 of her points came in the second half.  Her layup with 11:47 left in  the second half made her a member of the 1,000-point club, the 10th UAlbany player to achieve that feat.

“I am proud of my team, we worked very hard and we deserved to win,” said Richards. “We knew we had to rebound and push in transition, we came in and did our job.”

UAlbany outrebounded Penn State 49-31 in the game, including 20-7 on offensive boards.  Tate led all players in the game with a career-high 15 rebounds, tallying six points and three steals.  Carter had six points, 11 rebounds and two blocks while Royals finished with seven points and five assists.

UAlbany advances to the Preseason WNIT Semifinals and will play the winner of Colorado-Western Kentucky, which will be determined on Monday, on Thursday, November 20th.

For the Nittany Lions, Lindsay Spann scored 14 points and four assists, while Jenny DeGraaf was 4-for-4 from the three-point line for 12 points.

Using their size, Penn State got the early advantage, with a Lindsey Spann elbow three capping a 7-0 run for the home team.  Margarita Rosario ended the streak with a corner three with a Penn State player leaping at her.  With Carter blocking a shot the other way, Richards added a free throw to pull UAlbany within 7-4.

UAlbany tried to use pressure defense to hold Penn State away from the paint.  At 14-8, Richards threw up a floater for the score, then Tate made a jump step to get past two defenders for the uncontested layup.  Richards added two free throws, then following Carter drawing two charges, Richards hit another layup to complete the 8-0 run to put UAlbany ahead 16-14.

Penn State went back up on a basket and one from Kaliyah Mitchell.  UAlbany held on defense as Richards hit another floater to put UAlbany back ahead.  The Great Danes held Penn State without a field goal for a period of four-and-a-half minutes, with a Zakiya Saunders long jumper pushing the lead to 22-19 UAlbany.

The end of the half saw back-and-forth action from both sides.  Royals kept getting to the free throw line, while Penn State hit a couple of baskets.  Following a Waldner three to take the lead, Richards went the other way and scored on a fastbreak layup to tie the game at 28-28, the eventual halftime score.

Penn State got the first two baskets in the second half to lead.  UAlbany focused on the paint and stayed close, until with 13:02 left in the 2nd, Rosario took the kick out three and nailed it from the elbow to send UAlbany ahead 37-36.  Penn State tied it with a free throw.  On the next possession, Carter put back a Richards miss to put the Great Danes back up 39-37 with under 12 minutes left.

The defensive battle continued as the sides exchanged points.  With 11:47 left in the 2nd, Richards hit the layup to stamp her place in the 1,000-point club.  Penn State took the lead on a Sierra Moore layup, then Richards tied it on free throws.  On UAlbany’s next chance, Richards drew the double team to free Carter, who hit the layup for the UAlbany lead 47-45.

The exchanges continued as DeGraaf hit a wing three to send the home team up by one.  Richards again hit a layup to put UAlbany up, adding another to make it a three-point game.  Moore hit a jumper from the free throw line to make it 51-50 UAlbany with four minutes left.

Each side missed its shots for the following two minutes as UAlbany held the lead.  Richards hit the layup with 1:46 left to put it back to three.  The other way, DeGraaf hit a three to tie the game.  Penn State got a jump ball for possession, with Waldner missing a jumper and Rosario getting the rebound.

UAlbany turned the ball over, but Penn State tried to throw a pass the other way, seeing Tate stealing the ball with 16.5 seconds left.  UAlbany called timeout with 16.5 seconds left.  Trying to set up to Richards, Royals went to the hole and looked for the layup, getting fouled with 8.4 seconds left.  Royals hit the first free throw and missed the second, resulting in a Penn State rebound.  The Nittany Lions threw pass towards the backcourt, with Carter knocking in out of bounds with 3.7 seconds remaining.  Penn State called timeout to strategize.

On the final play, Penn State inbounded to Agee outside the paint.  UAlbany double teamed her, forcing a high and wide shot.  Tate grabbed the rebound and the clock expired, sending UAlbany to victory 54-53 over Penn State.

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