Richards photo

Albany’s Shereesha Richards, looking to shoot against Dartmouth, ranks seventh in the America East Conference in scoring at 12.4 points per game.

Bob Mayberger

Atlantic Christian School graduate Shereesha Richards and the University at Albany women’s basketball team are clear underdogs in the NCAA tournament.

The Great Danes are a No. 14 seed and will face perennial power North Carolina in the first round Sunday.

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But nobody should overlook Richards’ team. Albany enters the tournament having won 19 in a row.

Perhaps even more importantly, the Great Danes have the advantage when it comes to their one common opponent. Albany, from the America East Conference, and North Carolina, from the Atlantic Coast Conference, both faced La Salle University early in the season.

North Carolina beat the Explorers soundly in Chapel Hill, N.C., 85-55 on Nov. 24. Less than two weeks later, on Dec. 5, Albany played La Salle on the road in Philadelphia and clobbered the Explorers 75-36.

Comparing two blowouts, of course, is not ideal. But it’s worth noting that UNC’s smaller margin of victory wasn’t due to the Tar Heels easing up late in the game. La Salle led that game 32-31 at halftime.

Richards shot 7-of-9 from the field for a game-high 17 points in the La Salle game. She might be the biggest key as the Great Danes look to pull the upset, as her contributions off the bench have been an X factor for Albany all season.

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