UAlbany Women vs. Maine: Royals helps Danes romp
ALBANY Former starter Sarah Royals, who came off the bench for the fourth time in the last five games, played inspired basketball in the second half.
So did her teammates.
A 5-foot-9 junior from Torrington, Conn., Royals helped spark a 21-2 run in the second half that lifted the University at Albany women’s basketball team to a convincing 84-56 victory over Maine in the Great Danes’ first America East Conference home game of the season Saturday at SEFCU Arena.
Royals, who was the starting point guard on last year’s America East championship team but was moved to a wing position this year, had lost her starting job recently. Instead of pouting, Royals scored a career-best 23 points and added four steals in 25 minutes to help the Great Danes improve to 4-0 in the league and 14-3 overall. Maine slides to 3-2 and 9-9.
“Sarah Royals was fired up,” said UAlbany head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson. “When she came off the bench, she was a little fiery. I know Sarah doesn’t like coming off the bench, but she is very good at it, and she gives us quite a spark.”
Abrahamson-Henderson said the reason Royals was moved out of the starting lineup was because she was having difficulty adjusting to playing defense from the two-guard or small-forward positions after being switched from her natural point-guard slot.
Saturday, Royals was a force, both offensively and defensively. She made eight of her nine shots from the floor and constantly drove hard to the basket for layups or foul-shot opportunities.
“It’s simple to play the way I did when teams are double- or triple-teaming Megan [Craig] and Shereesha [Richards],” said Royals. “Players like them make it easier for me.”
Richards also had a big game for the Great Danes. The sophomore forward registered her school-record 11th double-double of the season with 19 points and 11 rebounds. She leads the conference in both scoring and rebounding, and has been named the conference’s player of the week seven times already this season.
“The record doesn’t mean much to me. I’m happy, but it’s no big deal for me,” said Richards. “I’m just glad we won.”
The Great Danes only had a 30-26 halftime lead, but after they stretched that advantaged to 39-30 with 15:20 left, they went on a 21-2 tear to break the game open. The UAlbany defense shut down the Black Bears’ three-point shooting over the final 20 minutes, forcing Maine to drive the paint against the taller Danes.
“We take pride at stopping people in the second half, especially after having such a mediocre first half,” said Royals. “We tried to take away their best players like Liz Wood and Ashleigh Roberts in the second half.”
Wood finished with four ponts, while Roberts ended up with 22, most of it in garbage time.
“I just told them to make Maine shoot twos instead of threes in the second half,” said Abrahamson-Henderson. “We kept them in front of us, and we didn’t bump off them in our zone. We also made an
adjustment in our press.”
Gustaffson 1-3 2-2 4, Wood 1-9 1-2 4, Wallace 2-4 2-2 7, Bodine 3-6 0-0 9, Roberts 8-14 4-6 22, Charles 0-2 1-2 1, Wewckstrom 0-0 0-0 0, Kolzar 1-4 1-3 3, Heise 2-5 2-2 6. Totals: 18-47 13-19 56.
Richards 9-15 0-0 19, Craig 1-1 1-2 3, Coughlin 3-6 0-0 8, Rosario 5-10 0-1 11, Phillip 0-3 0-0 0, Royals 8-9 7-11 23, Tate 6-11 1-1 13, Fequiere 0-1 0-0 0, Saunders 0-1 0-0 0, Williams 1-1 2-2 4, Edwards 1-2 1-2 3. Totals: 34-60 12-19 84.
Halftime: UAlbany, 30-26. Three-point goals: Maine 7-19 (Wood 1-4, Wallace 1-1, Bodine 3-6, Roberts 2-4, Charles 0-2 Kolzar 0-1, Heise 0-1); UAlbany 4-12 (Richards 1-1, Coughlin 2-4, Rosario 1-4, Phillip 0-1, Tate 0-1, Fequiere 0-1). Rebounds: Maine 25 (Koizar 6), UAlbany (Richards 11). Assists: Maine 13 (Wallace 4), UAlbany 15 (Rosario 5). Total fouls: Maine 17, UAlbany 20. Fouled out: Wood. Attendance: 793.