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Women’s Basketball dominates in season opener

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By Zachary Gaylis

Senior Staff Writer

sports.asp@gmail.com

Nov 18, 2014

After their championship banners were revealed, UAlbany won their first game of the season over St. Francis Brooklyn.  Photo by Julia Whitworth
After their championship banners were revealed, UAlbany won their first game of the season over St. Francis Brooklyn. Photo by Julia Whitworth

  

  The University at Albany women’s basketball team cruised in their opening match of the Preseason Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) against  St. Francis Brooklyn, defeating the Terriers by a final score of 90-47. After jumping out to a quick 7-0 start, the Danes would never look back, as their lead would expand for the remainder of the game. If UAlbany head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson has been preaching defense, she certainly got it from her team, as defense was the main story in this one.

   The Great Danes came out with relentless energy, starting out in a full court press along with continuous on-ball pressure. The Danes’ stifling defense caused eight Terriers turnovers, leading to many fast break opportunities.

   At the end of the first-half, the Terriers shot just 23.8 percent from the field and 23.1 percent from beyond the arc. The only bright spot for the Terriers in the first half was their free throw shooting, which saw forward Jaymee Veney go eight of eight from the charity stripe.

   As great as the Great Danes’ defense was, their offense was even better, shooting 60 percent from the field complimented by 50 percent from three point range.

   The game saw much of the same in the second half, as the Great Danes shot an even better 64 percent from the field and a perfect four of four from beyond the arc. The only bright side for the Terriers was the play of Veney, who gave the Great Danes some problems down low in the paint. She would finish the game with 18 points. The Great Danes energy simply proved to be no match for the Terriers, who could not find a way to get consistent scoring from anyone other than Veney.

   Guard Margarita Rosario did an excellent job controlling the pace of the offense, committing only turnover to go along with her 16 points. She was perfect from three-point range, nailing all of four of her attempts. UAlbany guard Zakiya Saunders had a strong all-around performance, scoring 13 points along with six assists, four rebounds, and two steals.  Forward Sheeresha Richards dominated the paint for the Danes and got to the line frequently. She finished with 10 points and four rebounds in just 19 minutes of action.

   “These guys are constantly in the gym. Everyday these guys take it upon themselves to get in the gym and get shots up,” Coach Abe said, lamenting in response to her team’s strong shooting performance.

   Fortunately for the Great Danes, the big lead enabled Coach Abe to rest her starters and look for contributions from her bench. Within the first 13 minutes of the half, nine out of UAlbany’s 10 players had played. Player of the game Imani Tate provided the Danes with a strong contribution off the bench, scoring a career-high 22 points and nearly missing a double-double with nine rebounds. Tate was spectacular throughout, going nine of 11 from the field and connecting from all over the court.

   When asked of her performance, Tate deflected the praise onto Richards, “I knew that they were going to double Sheeresha down low, and it was just my job to make sure I got in the right spots and helped with the scoring load,” Tate said.

   Although this Great Danes team is full of younger players, their performance undoubtedly left fans with a strong impression coming into the young season.

   On Sunday, UAlbany went to Penn State and won 54-53 to advance to the semifinals of the Preseason WNIT. The win was UAlbany’s first against a Power Five conference opponent. UAlbany will play in the semifinals on Thursday, Nov. 20.

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