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Albany advances in America East Tournament with 30 point win over Vermont

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VESTAL, N.Y. – The UAlbany women’s basketball team had its top defensive effort of the season in the America East Quarterfinals, defeating Vermont 63-33 at the BU Events Center to advance to the semifinals.

“I am really pleased with our defensive effort tonight. The key to March Madness is defense, rebounding and free throws, and I think we did a great job of that tonight,” said UAlbany head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson.

After trailing 7-6 after the first 6:02, UAlbany (22-8) went on a 23-2 tear in the next 10:15 to take the lead for good against Vermont (5-24). UAlbany allowed just 13 points in the first half, a new season record.

As a team, UAlbany had 20 steals and outrebounded Vermont 41-32. The Great Danes committed 13 turnovers to Vermont’s 26.

Shereesha Richards picked up a double-double by the end of the first half, finishing with 20 points, 14 rebounds and five steals. Imani Tate led UAlbany in points with 21, adding eight rebounds and four steals.

“Once we got settled and into the flow of the game, we found our groove on defense and offense,” said Richards. “There should be no nerves on defense, you should want to play defense all of the time.”

For Vermont, Kylie Butler led with nine points. Sydney Smith finished with seven points and four boards.

UAlbany will take on the winner of Stony Brook-UMBC in the semifinals at 4:30 p.m. in the BU Events Center.

UAlbany got looks early in the game, but started 0-7 from the field. Following a couple of Vermont free throws, the UAlbany defense forced a couple of turnovers, seeing Zakiya Saunders score in transition twice, adding a Richards step back jumper for a 6-2 lead after five minutes.

Vermont scored a couple of baskets in a row to take the lead as the sides exchanged the lead, with a Tate jumper making it 8-7 UAlbany for the next couple of minutes.

After a scoring drought by both sides for a couple of minutes, UAlbany got a quick burst of six points in 40 seconds, sandwiched by a pair of points by Richards, for a 14-7 lead with nine minutes remaining in the 1st.

At 14-9, the Great Danes held Vermont off the scoreboard for the next 6:28. UAlbany slowly built its lead with shots in the paint, with six Richards points capping a 13-0 run for a 27-9 UAlbany lead. UAlbany took a 33-13 lead into the half.

UAlbany kept up the full court press into the second half and did not allow a Vermont field goal in the opening 6:28 of the period. Tate, Richards and Royals led the press and pushed UAlbany to a half opening 16-1 streak for a 49-14 advantage.

Tate scored seven of UAlbany’s points in a row over a span of three minutes as the Great Danes built the lead to 59-21 with 7:27 left.

UAlbany placed its reserves on the floor for the reminder of the game. Cassandra Edwards and Jessica Fequiere each scored late as UAlbany took the 63-33 victory.

(Courtesy: Albany Athletics)