THIS IS OUR HOUSE: UAlbany Menís Basketball Takes Back Albany Cup with 81-72 Victory over Siena
ALBANY, N.Y. – The UAlbany men’s basketball team played Siena for the first time ever in the SEFCU Arena and defended its home court, taking down the Saints 81-72 to regain the Albany Cup from its crosstown rival.
UAlbany (4-2) led by 18 at the half, holding Siena (2-4) to 23.1% shooting in that period. Siena fought back to get within four late, but UAlbany, paced by 20+ point days by David Nichols and Joe Cremo, held off the comeback attempt. The Great Danes led the whole second half to secure the win.
“We beat a good basketball team, a talented basketball team,” said UAlbany coach Will Brown, who has led UAlbany to four Albany Cup victories in the last five years. “Any time you beat your rival, it is special, and when you beat them in this tremendous venue, it is even more special.”
A sellout crowd of 4,538 at the SEFCU Arena saw the Albany Cup game on the UAlbany campus for the first time ever. UAlbany celebrated the regaining of the Albany Cup with a postgame ceremony on the floor, including UAlbany interim president Dr. James Stellar and director of athletics Mark Benson.
As a team, UAlbany shot 51.9% from the field and turned the ball over a season-low six times. UAlbany also had 36 points in the paint to Siena’s 24.
Nichols led the way with a career-high 29 points, including 14 in the first half and 15 in the second, plus four assists and four rebounds. Cremo added 20 points, also contributing five assists and five boards, while Mike Rowley concluded with 10 points and six rebounds.
“You don’t want to let a team come into your home and win a game, especially a rival,” said Nichols. “As coach said, let’s use home court advantage to our advantage.”
For Siena, Marquis Wright tallied 18 points, including 13 in the second half of play. Nico Clareth had 16 points, all in the second half, and three steals.
Siena found early success shooting for three while UAlbany attacked in the paint and in transition. After an early 5-1 Siena lead, Nichols twice in a row hit layups in transition to tie the game. Following a Marquis Wright corner three, Greig Stire and Cremo hit baskets from down the baseline to give UAlbany a 9-8 lead five minutes in.
Nichols continued to roll, hitting a kick-out three to put UAlbany back ahead at the 13:03 mark. UAlbany’s defense continued to hold off Siena, keeping the Saints to one field goal for over an eight-minute span. Rowley and Travis Charles made baskets to extend the UAlbany lead to 20-11 with 9:29 left in the 1st.
After a UAlbany scoring lull helped pull Siena within four, UAlbany broke ahead following a missed Saints dunk attempt. Including four free throws and a couple of made baskets on fast breaks, UAlbany went on an 11-0 run and took a 31-16 advantage with under four left in the half.
Siena broke the run, then UAlbany finished the half with the final five points, including layups from Charles and Nichols, to go into halftime leading 38-20.
Into the second half, Siena attacked with Wright with its first three possessions, leading to a 5-2 spurt. Nichols countered that early run with a shot from downtown to send the lead back to 18 at 43-25 two-and-a-half minutes into the period.
UAlbany kept the lead strong as Siena continued to go with Wright, who accounted for all of the Saints’ points except three in the first seven minutes of the half. Another Wright layup led to an 8-0 Siena run as the Saints pulled to within single digits at 51-42 with 11 minutes remaining.
The sides battled back and forth, trading baskets with each other with UAlbany guards rushing to the basket and Siena hitting jumpers and free throws. Siena got to within seven a couple of times; at 58-51, Cremo hit two free throws, then Marqueese Grayson buried a top-of-the-arc three to send UAlbany up 63-51. UAlbany extended that lead to 14 after a Nichols three made it 68-54.
Siena pushed back to within eight using a couple of Nico Clareth deep threes. A Nichols pull-up jumper put the lead back to 10, then Lavon Long scored four straight points to make it 72-66 UAlbany at the final second half media.
Siena continued its hot shooting as UAlbany kept the lead with free throws from its guards. A jumper by Clareth pushed Siena within four at 76-72 UAlbany with 1:32 left in the 2nd.
UAlbany protected against Siena’s next possession as Clareth missed a long three. A Nichols heave to an open Cremo led to a layup the other way for a six-point lead. Again UAlbany defended and Cremo got the rebound the next chance. UAlbany did not allow points in the final 1:34 and added free throws to take the game 81-72.
UAlbany will stay at home for its next game, hosting Holy Cross on Wednesday, November 30th at 7 p.m.