ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – With Imani Tate and Shereesha Richards scoring 20+ points, the UAlbany women’s basketball team outscored Pepperdine 16-4 in the final quarter to take the 64-49 victory to open the season at the SEFCU Arena.
In the first year of the four-quarter format, UAlbany (1-0) had its best play over Pepperdine (0-2) in the first quarter, outscoring the Waves 17-6, and the fourth, outscoring its opponent 16-4. Pepperdine took the lead in the third off strong play from the Ogwumike sisters, then UAlbany charged ahead late in the third and did not look back.
With the win, UAlbany has won its last three season openers, all in the Capital District.
“Our first game, we had some jitters, and it showed in the first half,” said UAlbany head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson. “The second half, we had a lot more patience and poise.”
Tate led the UAlbany offense and nearly had a double-double with 24 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals. Richards shot 7-11 from the field with 21 points and seven rebounds. Zakiya Saunders also nearly had a double-double with six points, eight assists and nine rebounds. In her first collegiate game,Veronika Lavergne hit three field goals in four chances, scoring eight points and grabbing six rebounds.
“I had to step up, as a lot of people were nervous in the first game,” said Tate. “I had to be the upperclassman and lead the way.”
For Pepperdine, Erica Ogwumike tallied 20 points and four boards, while sister Olivia had 12 points and three assists. Allie Green scored 10 points, with eight of them in the second half.
UAlbany attacked with layups and pressure defense early. The Great Danes earned the first three baskets with three different players to take a 6-0 lead.
The Great Danes kept the pressure and primarily went into the paint for its shots. Richards and Tate made baskets, with Lavergne adding a lay up on a put back, as UAlbany led 17-6 at the end of the first quarter.
Pepperdine continued to fire for three for its attempts as the scoring stayed even at the start of the second quarter. The visitors saw Olivia Ogwumike get open underneath the basket as the Waves chipped away at the deficit.
As UAlbany struggled on offense, the Ogwumike sisters helped push the Waves ahead in the last minute of the half. Tate hit a runner in the final seconds to give UAlbany a 28-27 at the break.
In the first 3:08 of the third quarter, Pepperdine started getting hot from the perimeter. Using quick offense, the Waves hit five field goals in six attempts, including three from downtown, to take a 40-32 lead.
Coach Abe called a timeout as UAlbany started to come back. Following a couple of layups, Erin Coughlin buried a wing three to put UAlbany back ahead. Lavergne added another lay up from Tate as the Great Danes led 43-40.
The visitors went back up with a Paige Fecske three and a Green jumper on the baseline. In the final minute of the third, Richards hit a lay up and then a kick-out three up top of the arc to push UAlbany up 48-45 going into the fourth quarter.
Defense dominated the start of the fourth quarter. With 7:16 left, UAlbany led 51-47.
At the 5:21 mark, UAlbany went on a long possession off free throws and offensive rebounds, slowly using clock and picking up points. With Richards netting free throws, the Great Danes kept possession for almost a minute-and-a-half and leading 57-47.
UAlbany continued the run, adding layups from Tate and Saunders. The team did not allow a field goal until Keitra Wallace hit a lay up with 1:07 left. UAlbany took the 64-49 win.
UAlbany will hit the road for its next four games, taking on Boston University on Wednesday, November 18th at 7 p.m.