UAlbany Menís Basketball Downed 85-79 in Offensive Battle at UMass Lowell
LOWELL, Mass. – In a back-and-forth offensive affair where both sides shot over 57% from the field, the UAlbany men’s basketball team was edged late by UMass Lowell to fall 85-79 in the conference opener.
UAlbany (9-7, 0-1 AE) led for most of the second half, but UMass Lowell (6-9, 1-0 AE) finished on a 6-0 run in the final three minutes to win the game.
“We lost this game on the defensive end of the floor,” said UAlbany head coach Will Brown. “We scored plenty of points to win, but we didn’t execute at all defensively.”
UAlbany had a 57.1% field goal percentage, its highest mark of the season, and outrebounded UMass Lowell 28-18. UMass Lowell on the other end scored on 63.5% of its shots, including 52.2% of attempts from three.
The defeat snaps a six-year streak of UAlbany winning conference openers.
Joe Cremo had a career-high 10 field goals, shooting 10-for-15 with 23 points, six assists and two steals. David Nichols was 9-for-13 from the floor for 19 points, four rebounds and three assists. Mike Rowley added 12 points, six rebounds and two assists.
For UML, Tyler Livingston was 6-for-9 from three for 20 points. Jahad Thomas nearly had a double-double off 13 points, eight assists and five rebounds.
For three possessions to begin, UAlbany hit a basket, then UMass Lowell responded with a score of its own. After UML took a one-point lead, Nichols hit a three from up top of the arc, then drove to the basket and hit a pull-up jumper for a 13-9 UAlbany advantage, 3:40 in.
Each side continued its strong three-point shooting in the following minutes. Livingston assisted one then hit a pair to tie up the game, then after an exchange, Ryan Jones hit a kick out three to send Lowell ahead 23-20 with 11:11 left in the 1st.
UAlbany and Lowell started to exchange shots inside the arc, with each side going through the first 11 minutes shooting 73.3%. Cremo and Nichols combined to begin shooting 10-for-11. A layup and one by Jones gave UMass Lowell a 30-26 advantage with eight minutes left in the opening half.
The Great Danes pulled back in front with a layup and one by Rowley, then Jaraan Lands hit a layup for a 35-32 UAlbany lead. UML again went up at 38-37, when the side continued to trade baskets. With two seconds left in the half, Nichols hit a high-arc shot to give UAlbany a 41-40 advantage at the break.
After Thomas hit a layup to push Lowell ahead in the second, UAlbany responded with an 8-3 run, capped by a Cremo three and assist to Rowley, to make it 50-45 Great Danes. Lowell got four quick points, then UAlbany countered with Rowley and Cremo layups to go back up 54-49 with 14:53 in the 2nd.
The counter-punches continued as UAlbany kept getting up two possessions, primarily from Cremo layups and Dallas Ennema jumpers. Lowell pulled to within three with another Livingston three, then Greig Stire responded with a layup from Cremo to go up 65-60 with 9:25 left.
As the high octane pace continued, UAlbany went up by five again with a Nichols one-hand floater to lead 73-68. UML again got to within a possession, then tied it up with free throws and made it 74-74.
Marqueese Grayson delivered on the next play, hitting a deep three to push UAlbany back in front. Harris went the other way with a corner three, then Jones added a jumper. After a timeout, Nichols hit a free throw line jumper to tie the score at 79-79 with three minutes to play.
UAlbany held on defense for the next two minutes, but did not score. Thomas hit a layup with 1:02 to play, and scored the next two baskets to seal the game 85-79.
UAlbany heads to Long Island this weekend for a Sunday matinee against defending America East champion Stony Brook on January 8th at 2 p.m.