Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Sarah Royals Ties University of Albany WBB All-Time Assists Record, Scores 17 in 76-65 Win vs. UNH - UAlbany Sports 2015

Courtesy: UA Sports

ALBANY, N.Y. – With six assists, the final one with 2:15 left in the game, Sarah Royals tied the program’s all-time assists record with 375, adding 17 points to lead the UAlbany women’s basketball team past New Hampshire 76-65 on Wednesday night at the SEFCU Arena.

“Everyone stepped up, our press was great and everyone gave their best effort,” said Royals, who is currently tied with Samantha Ginsberg in assists all-time at UAlbany. “My teammates knocking down shots made that [record happen].”

With the game tied 47-47 and 10:58 remaining, UAlbany (9-6, 2-0 AE) used a 13-2 spurt in the following four-and-a-half minutes to hold the lead for good against New Hampshire (9-5, 1-1 AE).  This was UAlbany’s second home game in its last nine contests.

“We came out and played really hard, every school in the country needs to protect their home, and they were fresh and excited to play,” said UAlbany coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson. “[Sarah] was my first recruit, and when I came to see her play, I saw grit and toughness. She has had some great post players, and she is going to break that record and hopefully hold it for a long time.”

Shereesha Richards earned her sixth double-double of the year, scoring 15 points and 11 rebounds.  Tonight, she scored in her 75th-consecutive game.

“We came out poised tonight, we did a great job sharing the ball and doing the little things right,” said Richards. “It was definitely great to be back home and get a home win.”

Two other Great Danes scored in double figures.  Zakiya Saunders scored 12 off the bench with three assists, while Imani Tate tallied 11 points, five boards four assists, and three steals.  As a team, UAlbany outrebounded UNH 38-24.

For UNH, Elizabeth Belanger led all players with 22 points, adding five boards and three assists.  Ariel Gaston scored 13 points with five assists while Carlie Pogue scored 11 off the bench.

Both offenses found success early, with a couple of UAlbany layups being countered by Kaylee Kilpatrick transition layups. Royals led the charge for UAlbany in response with a layup and wing three as UAlbany led 9-6 in the opening minutes.

Belanger keep getting open looks against UAlbany’s zone, netting 10 early points as UNH took the lead at 14-13. Tate hit a jumper to put UAlbany back ahead, then Erin Coughlin hit two long shots from the right wing, one inside the arc and the other outside, for a 7-0 run to put the Great Danes ahead 20-14 with 8:20 elapsed.

After a lull in scoring by both sides, UAlbany stood with a 24-19 lead.  In a span of a minute, Tate hit a long one-hand floater from the baseline.  The next possession, Royals set up Coughlin for a wing three, then the following possession, Tate forced a turnover, passed to Royals, who passed to a running Richards for the layup to push UAlbany up 31-19.  The Great Danes held UNH without a field goal for over seven minutes.

With three minutes left in the half, Gaston banked a three before the shot clock buzzer.  Richards responded with a layup to make it 35-24.  The final 2:02, Belanger scored UNH’s next seven points, with Saunders for UAlbany and Sarah-Marie Frankenberger for UNH each adding baskets as UNH ended the half with a 9-2 streak.  UAlbany went into halftime up 37-33.

The teams exchanged baskets in the opening minutes, when at 39-37, Tiana-Jo Carter hit both free throws after getting fouled on a layup attempt, then rebounded a UNH miss and helped start a transition play leading to a Richards layup to push UAlbany’s lead to 43-37 in the half’s first four minutes.

Both sides committed turnovers, with each finding baskets in transition.  UNH tied the game following a couple of Pogue layups to make it 47-47 with 10:58 left.

UAlbany called a timeout to regroup.  Richards hit a layup out of the break, followed by Carter hitting one, to rebuilding UAlbany’s lead to four.  Following an exchange, UAlbany led 53-52 with 8:21 remaining.

A Tate jumper sparked a UAlbany run as the Great Danes went to the paint.  A minute later, Tate went into the paint, no looked a pass to Richards under the basket for a layup, then after a missed Pogue layup, Royals hit a layup and one to cap a 7-0 run and make the score 60-52 UAlbany with 6:32 left.

The teams traded points, with UAlbany making shots in the paint and UNH netting free throws.  With under three minutes left, Royals hit a pair of free throws.  After Richards rebounded a missed Belanger three, UAlbany called timeout.  Off the inbounds, Royals heaved a pass to a running Richards, who scored the uncontested transition layup.  That score gave Royals her 375th assist of her career and UAlbany a 68-57 lead with 2:18 remaining, the team’s largest lead in the second half.

Late free throws brought UNH within six with 41 seconds left.  Saunders and Tate hit free throws towards the end as UAlbany held the lead.  A Richards layup in the final seconds set the 76-65 final score in favor of UAlbany.

UAlbany will hit the road again in its next game, taking on UMass Lowell on Sunday, January 11th at 2 p.m.

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