UAlbany Menís Basketball Notches First-Ever Victory over Big Ten Opponent, Defeats Penn State 87-81
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The UAlbany men’s basketball team started the 2016-17 season in a big way, defeating Penn State 87-81 for the program’s first-ever victory over a Big Ten opponent to start the Naismith Hall of Fame Tip-Off.
UAlbany (1-0) took the lead against Penn State (0-1) with 12:54 left in the first half and never relinquished it, going up by 18 with 12:01 remaining. Three Great Danes earned at least 19 points as UAlbany outrebounded the Nittany Lions 43-26.
It is the program’s first win over a Big Ten opponent and first victory over a Power Five conference foe since defeating Washington in 2012.
“We had a plan that we felt would be effective for us,” said UAlbany coach Will Brown. “I thought in the first half, we executed it beautifully. We knew Penn State was going to make a run, they did a good job of making plays, but I’m just proud that we weathered the storm late in the game and had some guys step up and play really well.”
Joe Cremo, in his first collegiate start, notched a double-double, the first in his career, on 22 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. David Nichols earned a career-best 19 points and four assists while Dallas Ennema also had a career-high of points with 20, including 4-for-6 from three-point range.
“It is a good start for sure, but as Coach says, we cannot be satisfied,” said Cremo. “Definitely a great road win for us, especially with [our] new guys.”
“It is a good feeling and good team win, we stayed focused and weathered their run,” said Nichols. “It all started with practice with coaches to executing on gameday.”
For Penn State, Shep Garner got 25 points, including 23 in the second half, while Tony Carr and Payton Banks each had 14 points.
UAlbany attacked the basket early with layups and pull-up jumpers. At 6-2 Penn State, Cremo hit a layup with pressure, then added a putback layup to tie the score by the first media timeout.
UAlbany held Penn State without points for over four minutes, adding an Ennema kick out three, then a turnaround floater for Cremo and another Ennema three. PSU broke the run, but UAlbany continued to score and stop, using a 6-0 run sparked by a corner three from Marqueese Grayson to lead 20-8 with 9:36 left in the 1st.
Tony Carr got PSU closer by going to the basket for a couple of layups. The home team pulled to within eight at 24-16 with 6:24 left in the 1st.
UAlbany saw Nichols hit a 15-foot jumper, then Ennema nailed his third three in as many chances as the Great Danes built the lead to 13.
The pressure defense continued to help UAlbany on steals and the boards. With 1:19 left in the first, Nichols and Cremo combined for seven points in 53 seconds, leading to a 41-25 advantage at the half.
Into the second, the Nittany Lions started to fire away from three, hitting a trio in three minutes. UAlbany countered with layups from Mike Rowley and Nichols, going up 52-34 by the first media of the 2nd.
The home team continued to attack from three, getting a few more to pull within 14. Travis Charles hit a short jumper the other way to make it 64-48 UAlbany at the 10-minute mark.
As UAlbany got into foul trouble, Penn State went on an 8-0 run, capped by a long three up top the arc from Payton Banks, to get within eight at 64-56.
Ennema helped end PSU’s streak, drawing contact on a three-point attempt and hitting all three free throws. He added a jumper next possession plus had a steal at halfcourt, pushing UAlbany’s lead to 13.
Down the stretch, Penn State inched closer with scoring off defensive rebounds and steals. A Garner three-point hit made it 76-71 with three minutes to go.
With 1:18 left and up by four, UAlbany used its final timeout. Cremo responded with a one-handed layup to get UAlbany back up by six.
Penn State got back to within one possession with late free throws at 17 seconds left. Grayson got fouled and hit two free throws as UAlbany held its lead. The Great Danes took the 87-81 victory over Penn State.
UAlbany will remain on the road for its second game of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off, heading to Ohio to take on Cincinnati at 7 p.m. on Monday, November 14th.