Friday, March 13, 2015

University of Albany Women's Basketball Defeats Hartford 84-75 to Earn its 4th-Consecutive America East Title - UAlbany Sports 2015

ALBANY, N.Y. – UAlbany seniors Sarah Royals and Margarita Rosario will graduate never having fallen in the America East Tournament. The UAlbany women’s basketball team shot 62.5% to take down Hartford 84-75 for its fourth-straight America East title and earns an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. 2-seed UAlbany (24-8) led wire-to-wire at the SEFCU Arena, holding off 5-seed Hartford (16-17) in the second half to earn the win. With UAlbany leading by 10 at the half, Hartford came to within one possession with 14:44 remaining. The Great Danes broke away with a 12-2 run and never looked back. “A lot of credit to Hartford, they played hard, and they played a great game tonight,” says UAlbany coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson. “We wanted to get the ball to Shereesha [Richards], and we did. [The team] are great listeners, and they respond well.” UAlbany becomes the first team to earn four-consecutive America East titles since Maine did from the 1993-94 to 1996-97 seasons. 62.5% on field goal shooting is the highest percentage by a team in an America East title game. The Great Danes will find out where they are going in the NCAA Tournament on Monday, March 16th at 7 p.m. live on ESPN. Shereesha Richards earned Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament for the second-consecutive year, finishing with 28 points off 12-20 shooting, adding six rebounds. She passed Ebone Henry to become UAlbany’s all-time leading scorer with 1,656 points in her career, setting a new single single scoring record as well with 682 points this season. She is also the first player in America East Tournament history since 1997 to earn at least 20 points in all three games. “I am looking forward to going back [to the tournament], and we cannot wait. My teammates always know I am getting beat up, and they do their job.” Imani Tate, also named to the All-Tournament Team, went 9-13 from the field and nearly finished with a triple-double off 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. “I know I have to step up and make shots so they can cover me honestly, so I can free up Shereesha [Richards],” said Tate. The third UAlbany member on the All-Tournament Team, Royals concluded with eight points and eight assists, joining the 1,000-point club with her performance. “The feeling doesn’t get old, I am just happy I did not get stitches this time,” said Royals. Off the bench, Tiana-Jo Carter tied a career-high 16 points, shooting 8-9 from the floor. Zakiya Saunders also was a reserve, earning seven points and eight assists. Rosario tallied three assists, three points and two boards while Cassandra Edwards got four points in the first half. For Hartford, Cherelle Moore scored 22 points off 11-19 shooting, adding seven rebounds. Deanna Mayza shot 8-12 for 22 points and five assists. Each made the All-Tournament Team. UAlbany pushed the tempo to start the game, forcing steals on Hartford passes. With Edwards getting points in the paint and Tate forcing turnovers, UAlbany got off to a 7-0 start in the opening minutes. Hartford started getting off three-point shots against UAlbany’s zone, while the Great Danes continued to attack the basket in transition. The two sides exchanged points with Hartford hitting a couple of threes and Richards hitting shots on jumpers. UAlbany led 20-10 with 11:41 left. The back and forth continued as UAlbany kept finding its shots underneath the basket and Hartford hit jumpers. Tate and Richards led the way as UAlbany stayed ahead by double digits with a 32-18 lead with six minutes left in the half. Hartford hit two baskets in a row to pull within nine, later using another couple of fields goals to pull within seven. Rosario hit a wing three to end the run. Each side added a basket before the end of the half as UAlbany led 39-29 at the break. The Hawks came out aggressively in the second half, starting on a 13-6 run, including three Moore layups, to pull within three at 45-42 with 5:18 elapsed in the period. Tate and Richards took control, routinely going into the paint and looking for shots. With those two contributing every basket, UAlbany went on a 12-2 run in a span of four minutes to lead 57-44 with 10:40 left. Mayza kept getting points for Hartford, which UAlbany countered with Richards to hold the double-digit lead. Layups by Richards and Carter made it 69-53 UAlbany with 6:11 left. Hartford kept hitting baskets, which UAlbany answered with Carter underneath. Back and forth the teams went as the home team continued to hold a lead as Hartford would score a layup, then UAlbany responded with Carter hitting a layup the other way. Richards and Carter hit more layups towards the end of the game, effectively sealing the title. Hartford finished the game with the last five points as UAlbany took the victory 84-75. UAlbany defeated Vermont and UMBC to earn a place in the America East title game. 2015 America East All-Tournament Team --Shereesha Richards, UAlbany (Most Outstanding Player) --Imani Tate, UAlbany --Sarah Royals, UAlbany --Cherelle Moore, Hartford --Deanna Mayza, Hartford

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