Up With 18 Seconds Left, UAlbany WBB Falls in Heartbreaker to Duke 54-52 in NCAA First Round

Box Score | Box Score (PDF) | Photo Gallery (Photos by Sara Davis)

DURHAM, N.C. – Taking the lead with 3:06 left and holding it until the final seconds, the 13-seed UAlbany basketball team nearly pulled off the upset over 4-seed Duke but was edged 54-52 at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the final seconds.

UAlbany (24-9) took the lead with just under six minutes left and again with just over three minutes remaining, leading by as much as four with two minutes using the pressure defense.  But Duke (22-10) scored the final six points, going ahead on a Rebecca Greenwell three with 17 seconds remaining.  An Imani Tate layup attempt and an Erin Coughlin corner three-point shot at the buzzer did not fall.

“I would just say: phenomenal. I thought [our team] fought really hard,” said UAlbany coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson. “We talked about purple smear; leaving purple all over the floor. We talked about being fearless, fighting, and being relentless. And they did everything we asked. I’m just so proud of them. We were in the game the whole time, and they fought like warriors. And as women that’s what I’m trying to teach them: to fear nobody and to be fearless. You’re going to go through battles your whole life, but you’re not going to back down and you’re not going to fear anybody. And that’s what we did today; I’m proud of them.”

Tate led UAlbany with 17 points, six rebounds and a career-high eight steals.  Shereesha Richards finished with 12 points, her 33rd-consecutive double digit scoring game, adding five rebounds.

“We are small but we have a big fight,” said Tate. “I felt like you cannot just go out there and say ‘Oh they are just Duke, we are going to lose.’ You have to go out there with the mindset that you are going to win and if you believe you will succeed.”

“I just thought we crowded them and just played UAlbany basketball,” said Richards. “We focused on us and try to do the little things that Coach Abe [Katie Abrahamson-Henderson] told us to do and just tried to stay focused on defense. We just played UAlbany basketball.”

Sarah Royals and Margarita Rosario finished their careers today with this game.  Royals ended with six points, four assists and three steals while Rosario also had six points and four assists.

“I was very confident in us,” said Royals. “We knew that we came in and we knew we could win. Coach wrote on the board before the game that if you believe it then it could happen, but if you don’t believe it, it won’t happen. I think every single one of us believed, on the bench, everyone on the court, our coaching staff, all of our fans and everyone at home all thought that we could win that game.

Tiana-Jo Carter led UAlbany in rebounds with 10, adding three points.  Coughlin got six points, Zakiya Saunders had three assists, two points and three boards and Cassandra Edwards played off the bench in the first half.

UAlbany’s season comes to a close after winning its fourth-consecutive America East title and earning a 13-seed in the NCAA Tournament, the highest placement in the postseason in program history.

Duke advances to the NCAA Second Round to host 5-seed Mississippi State on Sunday.  Greenwell finished with 20 points off 6-11 shooting from the perimeter.  Azura Stevens got 11 points and nine rebounds while Elizabeth Williams nearly got a triple-double with nine points, 12 rebounds and nine blocks.

UAlbany struck first after a Duke travel, finding Richards for the jumper.  UAlbany played man-to-man defense and attacked the paint while Duke played zone and went for jumpers.  Duke countered and found Stevens and Amber Henson for shots inside the arc for an early 10-4 lead after five minutes.

After an exchange of baskets, the teams went scoreless for nearly two-and-a-half minutes as UAlbany lost the ball on turnovers and Duke missed shots.  Royals stole the ball and drew contact for two free throws, then Tate made the putback layup to bring UAlbany within one possession at 13-10 with 8:53 left in the 1st.

With two quick baskets, Duke built an eight-point lead.  UAlbany employed the press and forced turnovers for a fast four points.  At 20-14 Duke, Rosario hit a corner three, then a steal by Tate resulted in a fastbreak layup for Carter.  The next play, Tate again made the steal and hustled for the layup and one to complete the 12-2 run, giving UAlbany a 22-20 lead with 4:25 remaining in the 1st.

Greenwell hit another couple of threes to put Duke back in the lead.  Coughlin countered with one of her own with 1:55 left as the two sides did not make another shot in the first half.  UAlbany went into the locker room down 26-25.

After Carter hit a free throw in the opening seconds of the second half, Duke began to play the press and got the lead back to five after a couple of Stevens baskets.  A layup by Richards through a double team made it 31-28 Duke with 15:59 remaining in the 2nd.

Each side exchanged points against the other’s press, as another Coughlin three pulled UAlbany within one possession at 36-33 with 13:32 left.  Duke went up by six again with shots in the paint, UAlbany countered by going in for contact, getting back to within two at 41-39 after a Richards layup with 8:32 remaining.

Following a Duke basket, Saunders hit her baseline jumper.  The next possession, Rosario hit a second chance three from the wing to put UAlbany up 44-43 with under six minutes left.  After Stevens hit a layup, two minutes later, Royals hit a transition layup and one to push UAlbany back up 47-45.  Another Greenwell three made the score 48-47 Duke with 3:31 left.

UAlbany countered and found Tate for the jumper to go back ahead.  Saunders forced a turnover the other way, leading to another Tate jumper from the free throw line.  After another stop, Royals hit a frontend free throw to put UAlbany ahead 52-48 with 2:06 left, the same score with 1:15 left.

Williams hit a jumper in the paint to pull Duke within one.  The next possession, Williams got fouled and missed both free throws, with a jump ball giving the ball back to Duke.  Greenwell hit a three off a screen to push Duke up 53-52.  UAlbany ran down and got a look with a Tate layup, but the shot missed and Stevens rebounded.  Stevens hit the first and missed the second, with Richards rebounding.  Saunders got the pass to Coughlin for the corner three, but the shot went just long, ending the game in favor of Duke 54-52.

In the later game, 5-seed Mississippi State defeated 12-Tulane 57-47.




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