Albany loses 80-51 at No. 2 Duke

Shereesha Richards carried Albany for a while. When she slowed

down, so did the Great Danes.

Richards scored 20 of her 24 points in the first half of the

Great Danes’ 80-51 loss at No. 2 Duke on Thursday night.

Richards scored her team’s first 14 points and was the primary

reason Albany (8-2) led for the first part of the game.

”I wanted her to see herself play against the best players,”

Albany coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson said. ”This young lady was

fun out there to watch against their players, and she needs to know

that.”

Richards made 10 of 15 shots from the floor in the first half.

Her teammates made 1 of 15 during that span.

”It wasn’t easy because there’s like two people, and they’re

going to come and double team,” Richards said. ”But I just found

a way to score. If my guards pass it in to me, I’ve just got to

find a way.”

Haley Peters scored 17 points for Duke (11-1), which shot 59

percent from the floor in its first game since an 83-61 home loss

to No. 1 Connecticut on Tuesday. Chelsea Gray and Richa Jackson had

12 points apiece.

Albany led 20-13 with 7:53 remaining in the first half, but Duke

answered with a 15-2 run en route to a 34-26 lead at halftime.

Elizabeth Williams started the spurt with a free throw and a

layup, and Tricia Liston added a bank shot and a 3-pointer to tie

it at 22 with 4:56 left in the half.

”I think we just weren’t focused,” Gray said. ”We had to pick

it up defensively.”

Oderah Chidom made a pair of free throws to give the Blue Devils

their first lead, and Peters added two layups to extend the cushion

to six.

The Great Danes cut the lead to 28-24 but never got closer.

”The team picked it up,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said.

”They got focused and got more aggressive.”

The Blue Devils opened the second half with a 17-2 spurt and

scored on their first 10 possessions of the half.

Peters started the streak with a layup and capped it with a

short jumper on a feed from Gray.

McCallie kept Liston on the bench at the start of the second

half after she grabbed no rebounds in the first half. Duke turned

an 18-13 rebounding deficit at halftime into a 35-24 advantage for

the game.

Abrahamson-Henderson, who worked as an assistant under McCallie

at Maine and Michigan State, expected the surge in Duke’s

intensity.

”I kind of knew what she would say in the locker room, so I

knew they were going to come out really hard,”

Abrahamson-Henderson said. ”We just didn’t handle that very

well.”

Megan Craig, Albany’s 6-foot-9 center, returned after a two-game

absence due to an undisclosed injury, but Duke outscored the Great

Danes 42-22 inside.

Albany had won 16 consecutive road games dating to a loss at

Michigan State last season.